From Brian Keogh in Valderrama
Revved up Paul McGinley got his motoring running with a super 69 at vicious Valderrama - then set his sights on Ryder Cup points.
Just a day after declaring that he felt like a Formula One car with the wrong set up, the Dubliner grabbed the clubhouse lead in the Volvo Masters and finished the day just a shot behind leader Graeme McDowell.
And he did it in style, coming back from one over par with four to play with a birdie at the 15th and an amazing, eagle two at the 386-yard 16th.
Beaming after spinning a nine-iron into the cup from 155 yards, McGinley wants to give his fans something to cheer about again after his worst season since he was a rookie.
But he warned that two good shots doesn’t mean he’s back to his very best just yet and he wants to convert his great start into a big haul of Ryder Cup points and start his climb back to the top of world golf.
McGinley said: “I was hovering along at one over par and probably going to shoot 72 and be somewhere around 20th or 25th,
“Then I went 2-2 and all of a sudden it’s a great day. I’m very happy. But all of a sudden, two holes doesn’t make your summer.
“It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden I’m back and playing great. I played okay, I kept the ball in play and putted okay.
“But my game obviously hasn’t been good enough for the whole season and it’s been my worst ever year since I was a rookie.
“I haven’t played horrendously, I just haven’t had any big cheques and big cheques are what put you up the Order to Merit and the World Rankings.”
Languishing at 209th in the world, McGinley can pick up massive Ryder Cup and world ranking points this week though his earnings won’t count on the Order of Merit as he is ineligible after receiving a special invitation for past champions.
But he took full advatage of his start, scorching off the line with a brilliant birdie at the second and third.
Forced to drill a slinging 30 yard hook under under a tree at the second, he watched as his ball finished on the fringe and then drained a 20 footer.
He said: “It was the best shot I've played all year. Then I nearly had a hole in one at the third with a six iron.”
His ball finished three feet form the stick there and while he bogeyed the fifth, seventh and ninth after bad drives, he kept round going with a brilliant par save from sand at the 11th before that superb finish.
At the 230-yard 15th he hit a two-iron to 15 feet and then at the 16th, his nine-iron from 155 yards, pitched two yards past the flag and screwed back into the hole.
He said: “I haven't holed a shot all year. That last time I holed one was in the European Open at the seventh last year.”
As for his decision to resign as Nick Faldo’s Ryder Cup assistant, he is glad he can now forget all that and concentrate on getting his game back in shape.
He said: “The longer I did the job, the more I realised it was a drain on my energy. Hopefully there will be times in the future when I can do it again.
“The Seve Trophy was the same thing. There were other players going for the same position I was going for and there was a bit of conflict of interest.
“So I stepped aside to do my own thing. There is a lot more golf left in me and I’m determined to come back.”