McGinley keeps the faith

Paul McGinley believes he can still make Nick Faldo’s Ryder Cup side to take on the Americans at Valhalla.

The Dubliner, 41, reckons that he can qualify automatically or contend for a wildcard before the race ends at Gleneagles on August 31.

Chasing his first win for two and a half years in the Estoril Portuguese Open, he said: “I have a chance of making the team right up to the very end, even if I am way off the team.

“If I happen to win during the last couple of weeks, I am going to have a chance for a pick having played the last three Ryder Cups.

“But the Ryder Cup is the last thing on my mind. I am so far of the pace that it is not a realistic goal at the moment. I have got to get a lot closer.

“I have got to get myself into a better position and I am way off the pace. The game is there and it is about producing results and I haven’t produced enough big results.

“It is about performing well in the big tournaments and a lot of guys are getting big jumps of six figures because they are playing in world events that I am not in.”

Down to 149th in the world from a career-high 16th less than three years ago, McGinley has decided to focus on his world ranking and let the Ryder Cup take care of itself.

He’s 29th in the Ryder Cup European Points List and knows that even if he wins this week, he will still be more than 170,000 points outside the 10 automatic places in Faldo’s side.

He added: “My whole focus is on getting back into the top 50 in the world. That's more important than Ryder Cup because it opens up other doors in terms of qualifying for the majors and all the world events.

“Once you do that everything else falls into place. But I have got to get stuck in and do the business and then we can talk about things after that.

“I have to get stuck in and do things and I am starting to do that. I am starting to turn it around and my underlying form is good.”

McGinley showed signs that he is close to his best again when he finished third behind Graeme McDowell and Jeev Milkha Singh in the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea three weeks ago.

But his lowly world ranking means that he is at a major disadvantage in the Ryder Cup stakes compared to players in the world’s top 50.

He has not qualified for next week’s US Masters and may have to pre-qualify for the Open and the US Open as well.

He explained: “I am in none of the majors. Ryder Cup status doesn't get you into anything. So I have to get myself in position.

“There are so many guys capable of winning that I am under no illusions. It’s all about holing more putts, getting a bit of momentum and hitting good irons shots closer. I am on the right track and it is still early in the season.”

Asked if he would reconsider his role as a Ryder Cup vice-captain if he failed to qualify, McGinley was unsure.

He resigned from the post on the eve of the Seve Trophy last September, saying he wanted to concentrate on making the team.

He said: “I won't make that decision, Faldo will make that decision. I won't go down that road until the qualification process ends.

“When the 31 August comes, whatever happens happens. It is completely off my agenda. My goal is to make the team and get my ranking back.”

World No 72 Soren Kjeldsen and No 73 Peter Hanson are the highest ranked players in a field that also features Irish stars Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie and Gary Murphy.

Spaniard Pablo Martin made history last year when he became the first amateur to win a European Tour event.

But he faces a tough defence against a field that also features Andalucia Open runner-up Ollie Fisher, Englishmen Simon Dyson, Brian Davis and David Howell and Ryder Cup contenders Soren Kjeldsen and Steve Webster.