McGinley overdue a win

By Brian Keogh

Paul McGinley is hoping to grab a long overdue Chinese takeaway in this week's $ 1 million TCL Classic.

The Dubliner was denied a famous victory at Yalong Bay when Paul Casey drained a 25 footer to snatch the title in at the second hole of a sudden death play-off two years ago.

But after sharing 16th place with another fine performance last year, McGinley knows that he has the game to go low on Hainan Island and challenge for his first European title for two years.

After firing a course record equalling 63 to make the play-off in 2005 the Ryder Cup star is feeling good about his chances.

He said: "That 63 was one of the best rounds of my career considering that I had to shoot it to get into a play-off.

"Scores like that tend to happen when you feel good on the course and that's exactly how I was. It's one of the best courses I have played for a long time.

"Losing the play-off wasn't quite as painful as it might normally have been because I had had to shoot really low to get there in the first place.

"But no golfer ever likes finishing second and I'll be doing everything I possibly can to go one better this time."

McGinley needs a good performance to move closer to the world's top 50 after a solid but unspectacular start to the season.

Down to 94th in the world, the three-time Ryder Cup winner has spent the last three weeks recharging his batteries ahead of a seven tournament run over the next eight weeks.

And after playing the TCL Classic in a combined 38 under par over the past two years, he could make a major leap up the world rankings with another top show.

The Yalong Bay course has undergone a few changes over the past year with heavier rough putting more of a premium on driving accuracy.

But McGinley is not the only big name hoping for a memorable week with Ryder Cup team mate Lee Westwood and England's Nick Dougherty headlining a co-sanctioned field at also features Irishmen Damien McGrane, David Higgins and Michael Hoey.

Peter Lawrie is taking the week off after failing to take advantage of a winning chance in the Singapore Masters over the weekend.

Just two off the lead starting the final round, the Dubliner could only managed a two over par 74 and had to settle for a share of eighth place.

Padraig Harrington continues his break from activity ahead of next week’s WGC-CA Championship in Maimi and the run up to the Masters.

But Darren Clarke will be in action in the US when he lines up alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the $5.5 million Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

After missing the cut in Singapore last week, Clarke has fallen to 57th in the world rankings and needs a top finish to regain his top 50 place in time to qualify for the WGC-CA Championship.

The Ulsterman was eighth at Bay Hill in 2005 and third behind Aussie Rod Pampling last year.

And he can take comfort from the fact that he fired a third round 63 last season to move into the frame - despite the fact that his wife Heather was battling cancer at the time.

After making the cut with just two shots to spare, Clarke jumped into second place after firing six straight birdies in a course-record equalling effort before a closing 70 left him two behind the winner.