Route 66 for McGinley

From Brian Keogh in Tulsa

Paul McGinley birdied the last to hit route 66 in the US PGA in Tulsa and roared: Padraig showed me the road to major glory

The dapper Dubliner, 40, fired five birdies and one bogey in a sensational second round effort that left him just four shots behind clubhouse leader Scott Verplank on level par.

And he confessed that the confidence he gained at Carnoustie from playing in the second last group and then watching pal Padraig Harrington lift the Claret Jug, will inspire him and the rest of Europe to a run of major successes.

McGinley said: "When somebody like Padraig wins a major it raises the bar and this will raise the bar in European golf. I think we are on the verge of what we had in the early 90s with so many Europeans winning majors. There is so much talent in Europe it is just a matter of time.

"Carnoustie was a lot of fun because it had been a long time since I was in contention. I was disappointed to finish 19th but I learned a lot.

"Now I am right back in this tournament after struggling to get away from the cut line. I am enjoying it. It is a big buzz to be in contention for a major."

Yesterday's round was McGinley's lowest ever in an American major and just one shy of the 65 he hit in the Open at Lytham 11 years ago, when he was 12th.

But while Open champion Harrington struggled to a 73 that left him six off the pace on two over par, he was not surprised to see fellow Irishman McGinley storm through the field and emerge from the year long slump that has seen him crash from 18th to 155th in the world.

Harrington said: "Paul is mentally very good since he started working with Bob Rotella before the Open. It is good to see Paul coming back there. It just shows what a difference the right psychology can make.

"He is now competing in majors. He was in the second last group at the Open after starting to work with Bob that week.

"Now he is going to be right up there again this week as week and I am not surprised. You need get to a low point in order to have a change around.

"I know that when you are not competing it starts to bear down on you and Paul has had a year of that. He will be happy to be back in the right frame of mind.

"As I always say, if you walk up to your ball with a smile on your face you are going to have a better lie than if you don't."

McGinley closed with a spectacular 30 footer for his fifth birdie of the day at the 18th - the toughest hole at Southern Hills.

And he was delighted to take advantage of his opportunities after walking away bitterly disappointed with a 74 on Thursday,

McGInley said: "Today it was eight shots better but it wasn't eight shots better in the way I played - more like four shots. I didn't play that badly yesterday.

"Nothing happened for me yesterday. I hit a bad shot and paid a bit penalty and I didn't convert my birdie opportunities. Today I did. I had five birdies today and had a load of other chances.

"I made a quick start, nearly birdied the first and second but then birdied the third from five feet and moved on from there.

"The putt on the last from 30 feet was the longest putt I holed. On the fifth I wedged it to eight feet and then on the 12th I hit a six-iron to 15 feet."

He birdied the 15th from 12 feet and dropped his only shot of the day after a drive into the trees before rifling a seven iron to 30 feet at the last and canning the putt.

Mental coach Rotella has made a difference to McGinley, but he insisted that Bob Torrance was also due some credit for the improvement in his swing.

He said: "Bob Rotella has helped. But there is nothing really new and I have worked a lot on my golf swing as well and I can attack the ball. I am not hitting the wides I was hitting before.

Harrington was disappointed to bogey his final hole after a battling performance that saw him get up and down from sand for par five times out of seven.

But while his three over 73 left him just six off the early lead, he knows he has to play free-flowing golf over the weekend to have a chance.

Harrington said: "I am certainly within range but I need to play better golf. It is easier to go forward than to defend on this course.

"If anything it played easier today but a couple of three putts cost me today and I had a lot of putts for birdie that wouldn't drop.

"But I got up and down a few times. If I hadn't had the three-putts I would be right in there. It wasn't a good day on the greens and I need to work on that this afternoon.

"My focus was poor today and I got on a run of missed fairways and kept missing. I got it up and down reasonably well but I missed a lot of putts in the 15 foot range.

"I knew going out that anything under 70 was going to keep me right in there but I missed a lot of fairways with my fairway woods off the tee. My driver was fine.

"You can't hit half shots out there, you have to be committed to them."

"I have got to play good golf to win the tournament from here. I am in that situation that I have to put two rounds together over the next two days.

"Today was probably my poor day. I have to go and have two good days now and two 67s won't leave me far away. I think four under could be the mark."

McGinley knows he will not be far away if he plays as he did yesterday.

With the experience of Carnoustie under his belt, he said: "A major is a major and fellas get tight over the weekend. I think around eight or nine under par could be the mark with the wind dying, you you never know."