McGinley needs precision not power

Paul McGinley insists that he must forget his power trip and play to his strengths if he is to become a force again.

The Dubliner, 42, admits that his on-going battle to keep up with mega-long tour winners like Paul Casey, Alvaro Quiros and Rory McIlroy is hurting his game.
Paul McGinley wants to put the precision back in his game.
And he hopes to get back to his straight-hitting best at Pebble Beach when he tees it up with pals Padraig Harrington, Dermot Desmond and JP McManus in this week’s AT&T National Pro-Am.

Reeling after his worst start to the season for 17 years, McGinley confessed: “I may have fallen into the trap of playing a game that’s just not me, which is a power game. My game is about control and that’s what’s been lacking so far this year.

“There is always an extra five or ten yards to be gained and I am working towards that. But the important thing is that I don’t lose sight of what my game is built around and that is a level of consistency.”

McGinley showed signs of a return to form last year when he finished 26th in the money list after a poor 2007.

But he's just 172nd in the Race to Dubai so far this term after following lowly finishes in Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi with a pair of missed cuts in Qatar and Dubai.

The European Tour’s “Desert Swing” was extra tough for him as he watched rocket launchers Casey, Quiros and McIlroy blast the ball more than 30 yards past him off the tee.

Yet despite his gym regime, three-time Ryder Cup winner McGinley appears to be losing his battle to close the gap.

He was 143rd for driving distance last season with an average of 278 yards and hasn’t been ranked inside the top 100 in the power stakes since 2004.

He's aware that he will get his chance to shine when he returns to the European Tour in March to play tighter tracks in Portugal and Spain.

But he’s still looking for something extra in the gym and plans to pick Harrington’s brains over dinner in California this week to find out how to get the maximum out of his five foot seven inch frame in the gym.

He said: “I have done three months of hard physical work on my strengthening with my trainer Steve Bond, but as of yet I haven’t turned that into more distance off the tee.

“I talk to Padraig all the time and he’s well aware of the importance of length off the tee. You just have to look at the distance he has put on his tee shots compared to four or five years ago.

“The whole dynamic of the game has changed and it is a power game nowadays. So I am picking his brains in order to find out what kind of training he has done to get that.

“There is no doubt that there is a massive advantage now being a power hitter. But I have got to concentrate on what has given me success before, which is consistency.

“That’s what has been letting me down. I haven’t played to my strengths because I haven’t driven the ball well enough.

“The three weeks in the desert were very heavily weighted towards the big hitter. The courses were 7,400 yards or longer with very heavy rough and soft fairways.

“I drove the ball particular poorly and when I drive the ball poorly on long courses, I am going to struggle. I had five penalty shots in two rounds in Dubai and those mistakes have been killing me. I just need to tighten up a bit and these three courses at Pebble Beach, Poppy Hills and Spyglass Hill suit my game.”

McGinley failed to qualify for any of the Majors or World Golf Championships last term and hasn’t qualified for any of them so far this year either.

But he’s prepared to work his way back slowly by hitting more fairways and greens than the rest.

Ranked 121st in the world, he said: “I can’t complain. If you play well, you get into the majors. I can’t use excuses. I have to play better, that’s the bottom line.

"There's no point in thinking about Ryder Cups or Majors right now. I just have to get back to playing the way I known I can. Accuracy and consistency are what works for me."