McGinley targets comeback season

By Brian Keogh

Paul McGinley is convinced he has what it takes to become a four-time Ryder Cup winner this year.

The Dubliner, 41, is at his best when his back is against the wall and with the bookies writing off his chances of making Nick Faldo's side, he's determined to prove them wrong.

Players such as rookie Rory McIlroy, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and German Martin Kaymer are all rated better Ryder Cup bets than the battling Dubliner.

But as he prepares to kick off his 2008 campaign in Abu Dhabi in two weeks, McGinley feels capable of making the grade again.

Assessing his chances, McGinley said: "I have been written off before in terms of making the team and come from way behind to get in.

"So while I haven't had a great start to the campaign this time, it is all about playing well and getting on a run.

"That's something I didn't have last year. I don't think I've ever had a season where I didn't get momentum at any stage. If you are to make the team you need a hot spell at some stage and I didn't have it last year.

"That's what was missing and if I hit a hot streak this year, hopefully I will be able to take advantage of it."

McGinley was a member of the world's top 20 when he won the 2005 Volvo Masters but has since crashed to 207th.

But he believes that he can scorch back up the rankings again this year by boosting his fitness instead of fiddling with his swing.

With a new indoor swimming pool and state-of-the-art gym at his palatial Sunningdale home, McGinley will be European golf's Mr Fitness in 2008.

He added: "I have had a really good look at everything I was doing last year and I don't feel that at this stage in my career that I should go down the road of changing coaching or my swing.

"I have refocussed my energies on becoming more supple and training harder. Fitness has become very, very important for me and I have decided that being as supple as possible is the way to go for me.

"I certainly won't be changing my swing. It is not the right stage of my career to be re-inventing the wheel.

"I only missed three cuts last season, which is the fewest I've ever missed in my entire career. And yet I've never had a season where I didn't have a top 10 - even my rookie season I had two or three top 10s."

Winning is top of McGinley's agenda in 2008, but he says he will settle for a run of big finishes in Europe's richest events.

He explained: "Qualifying for a Ryder Cup team is not about winning tournaments. It is about making massive cheques and second place in the British Open is far better than winning three small tournaments in Asia.

"It is all about performing well in the tournaments where the big money is at stake because money equals points and points means you are in the Ryder Cup team or not.

"So of course every aim is to go out and win. But Ryder Cup is all about big cheques and whether that be first, second or third in a big tournament or winning smaller events, that is what you have got to be aiming at.

"As I proved last year, you are not going to make any team or make progress in the world rankings by finishing 25th every week.

"You are better off missing a load of cuts and having the odd really big finish. There is far more reward for that week in and week out.

"If you put three or four big finishes on top of the rest of my performances last year, we would be having a different conversation now."

Studying the world rankings, McGinley knows that the only way is up if he performs well this term.

He added: "Big finishes equals big points in the world rankings and the good news is that I have no points to lose now in the world rankings.

"Over the last two years I have lost all the points that I had so I am starting from the very bottom and any points I make will be added.

"I am in a position now where I can bounce up very quickly. So I just have to go out and do it."

Knowing the Dubliner, a fourth Ryder Cup cap is just around the corner.