McGinley praise for Padraig

By Brian Keogh

Paul McGinley reckons Padraig Harrington's title bid can turn a damp squib into a firecracker.

The Dubliner tumbled seven shots behind his Ryder Cup partner after a 74 in the worst of the wind and rain.

But he believes that Harrington's presence at the top of the leaderboard is the silver lining to a dark Irish Open cloud.

McGinley said: "It is not much fun playing in these conditions and people don't enjoy it. Ireland gets a bad reputation with the players even though we actually get a lot of good weather here.

"It is just damned bad luck but it is fantastic for the event that Padraig is up there. It is more than a help.

"It is terrific for the tournament and that is the big bright thing coming out of the last two days, the fact that we have an Irishman leading the way.

"We will have the crowds at the weekend no matter what the weather and all credit to Padraig.

"He got the best of the weather for two days but he obviously played extremely well to shoot the score he did. I know he had easier conditions, but it wasn't dead easy."

McGinley drove the ball poorly and bogeyed three of the first five holes before knuckling down.

And while he hasn't written off his chances of winning, he needs a break with the weather after getting the worst of it for two days in a row.

He added: "I battled really well and it could have been worse. I am seven shots behind Padraig and it is hard to give Padraig seven shots over two rounds.

"I will have a go at it but I need to play better, that is the bottom line. My driving percentage is not very good and I am not hitting fairways."

What worries McGInley is that the reputation of Irish golf took as much of a battering as the players.

He explained: "I am disappointed as an Irishman. We have been dogged by bad weather in the IRish Open and the SMurfit European Open as well.

"We salvaged a lot last year through sheer will of the people to get the Ryder cup played. If that had been an ordinary tournament we would have struggled to play. Hopefully we can get a decent weekend."