By Brian Keogh
Damien McGrane celebrated a dream come true last night when he clinched his Major championship debut in the Open at Royal Birkdale.
But as the Knightsbrook professional was planning the highlight of his summer schedule, Dubliner Paul McGinley was struggling to come to terms with his nightmare weekend at Wentworth.
McGinley could only finished 10th in the BMW PGA after leading by four at midway as McGrane clinched his ticket to Birkdale alongside Graeme McDowell and Irish Open winner Richard Finch under a special exemption for the top three non-exempt players in the top 20 on the Order of Merit
McGrane beamed: "It is a dream to play in the Open and my dream was to do it through a rankings system rather than having to go and pre-qualify.
"I have always said that if I got in legitimately, I would like to play because the qualifying route was never something that interested me too much.
"Having to go and qualify brings such a hectic workload and I always felt it would take too much from my golf by squeezing that in.
"I am doing it my way to be honest. It is going to be the highlight of my summer."
Now he must decide which events he will play in the run up to his Major championship debut, where Padraig Harrington is defending the title he won in a play-off at Carnoustie.
But he won't be at the European Club to battle Harrington for his Irish PGA the week before his Birkdale test.
McGrane said: "If I was to play golf that week, I'd go to the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond because it is a course I like with great facilities and I'd need to use those facilities in preparation for the Open."
McGrane also believes he has the game to do well on a links course, having worked under Joey Purcell at Portmarnock.
He said: "I don't mind links golf and I did my two years of my apprenticeship at Portmarnock. I think my natural ball flight is lower than most players, so I have no excuses."
Dubliner McGinley has not qualified for any of these season's Majors so far and he was still scratching his head over exactly what happened to him at Wentworth.
He blamed his lack of wind practice for some of his poorer shots but still hasn't a clue why he let a golden opportunity to make a huge leap up the Ryder Cup rankings slip away.
Struggling to assess the damage, McGinley said: "There are a lot of positives to come out of the week, of course there are. But it is a body blow to be leading by four shots after two rounds and finish where I did.
"I am going to take two days off to recover. I'll analyse what's gone on, think about it, have a rest and get away from it. Then go at it again."
McGinley will have to pre-qualify for the Open unless he hits top form between now and qualifying deadline at the end of June.
He will also have to pre-qualify for the US Open at Walton Heath next Monday.
He said: "I'm not in the majors. Ryder Cup status doesn't get you in the majors. I have got to pre-qualify for the British and I have got to pre-qualify U.S. Open and I wasn't in the Masters and I haven't got an invite yet for the US PGA."
Asked last week if he felt he was an unlucky player, McGinley said: "I think there's a lot more to go in my career before I can start reflecting on whether or not I've been unlucky or whether I haven't.
"Any guy who has had an opportunity to have a winning putt in The Ryder Cup and then to hole it, it's very hard to say he's not lucky."