McGinley driven to distraction

From Brian Keogh in Cologne

Paul McGinley had a woeful day with the driver to fall a dispiriting 16 strokes off the lead in the Mercedes-Benz Championship at Gut Larchenhof near Cologne.

Having watched in awe on Thursday as playing partner Lee Westwood scorched to an incredible 11-under par 61, McGinley had enough on his own plate to notice that the Englishman was as off-colour yesterday as his own game.

Suffering dizzy spells as a reaction to decongestant medicine, Westwood carded a one over par 73 to fall a stroke behind Soren Hansen of Denmark, who fired a four-under par 68 to lead on 11-under par.

But McGinley was more worried about his own game as he cobbled together a seven-over par 79 that left him tied for 73rd in the 78-man field on five-over par.

"I just kept hitting it in the heavy rough and hacking it out," said McGinley, who had six bogeys in a row from the second hole. "I drove the ball appallingly badly, hit three fairways and had 36 putts.

"Between driving and putting, that's where I lost it because my iron play was okay. I hit it in the heavy stuff about six times and it was like a penalty shot each time.”

The Dubliner went to the tour in 42 and while he birdied the par three 11th, he dropped two shots as the wind freshened on the back nine.

"I had no problem with the wind,” McGinley said. “Yes, there is some rust on my game after a month off. But the driving came totally out of the blue.

"I don't think I have ever driven the ball as poorly. I have two more rounds here to sort it out, so hopefully I can play a bit better at the weekend."

Portrush's Graeme McDowell birdied the last hole in near darkness for a level par 72 that was enough to lead the three-man Irish challenge in a share of 28th place.

"It was getting pretty dark out there but to finish with a birdie is nice, and I'm seven under par for the back nine,” McDowell said. “But in saying that I am four over on the front so I know there is a score out there if I can get going. I am driving the ball fantastic and played so well but I am hitting some weird-looking irons."

Darren Clarke drove the ball poorly for the second day in a row and carded a three over par 75 to drop back to tied 52nd on level par.

His stablemate Westwood was suffering from a heavy cold and confessed that his head was in a spin after a reaction to decongestant medicine.

He was just a dizzy after a 73 that saw him go to the turn in 33 with an eagle and two birdies on his card and then limp home in 40.

He said: "I came here with a bit of a cold and it's gradually got worse and I didn't get a good night's sleep last night. My balance felt a bit upset and I struggled to feel the right positions in my swing. I took a decongestant and it sent my head into a spin so I think I'll leave off them."