The big question these days appears to be: What’s wrong with Padraig Harrington? But what about Paul McGinley, who turned a promising (possibly tournament winning) start in the BMW International Open into his fifth missed cut of the European Tour season.
Now 42, McGinley has shown few sparkles of brilliance over the past two years and is ranked 188th in the world behind every other Irish tour player bar Gary Murphy (431st) and rookie Jonny Caldwell (1,093rd).
It would appear that his lack of driving accuracy is killing him, as we explain later.
Shane Lowry is 168th in the world thanks to his shock Irish Open win as an amateur just over a month ago but he’s still waiting to earn his first euro with his clubs after missing the cut for the third time in a row.
While McGinley was following his opening 68 with a 75 to miss the three-under cut by two shots, Lowry made a valiant effort to undo the damage of a first round 74 only to fall flat on his face over the finishing stretch.
Four under for the day with four to play, he needed just one more birdie to have something to look forward to on Saturday morning for the first time since Baltray, but bogeyed the 15th and 17th instead to miss out by two. Damien McGrane also missed by three shots after a 73 and a poor week on the greens.
At least Lowry’s second round 70 showed some positive signs of improvement. Following his 17 under par winning total at the Irish Open, he was 17 over for the European Open and Celtic Manor Wales Open combined.
Perhaps that one under total in 36-hole qualifying for the Open at Sunningdale and some quality practice time with his coach Neil Manchip during the Challenge of Ireland has worked some magic. Next week’s French Open would be a good time to start making money.
As things stand this season, Ireland’s Race to Dubai is headed by the increasingly impressive Rory McIlroy, who impressed the great Bernhard Langer as he eased to a 67 at a soggy Golfclub München Eichenried and closed to within six shots of relentless pace-setter Retief Goosen.
"The Goose" has dropped just one shot so far this week - a feat matched by the methodical Peter Lawrie, who added a flawless 68 to his first round 69 to lead the Irish challenge on seven under.
The other three Irishmen to make the cut have also had a lean time of late.
Gareth Maybin had a 68 for five under to bring his run of three consecutive missed cuts to a timely end.
His compatriot Michael Hoey continues to be as unpredictable as the Irish weather. Following his maiden win in Estoril, he missed the cut in the Spanish Open, got disqualified for having 15 clubs in Baltray and then withdrew from the BMW PGA suffering from dizziness before missing the cut at the London Club and Celtic Manor.
On Friday he shot 71 in Munich to make the weekend with nothing to spare. Murphy shot 70 to join him on the mark and will be grateful for the work after missing out eight times already this season.
The Kilkenny man is 137th in the Race to Dubai rankings, but unlike McGinley he is not a past winner of the Volvo Masters or a three time Ryder Cup player.
Thanks to that win at Valderrama in 2005, McGinley will be exempt on the European Tour until the end of next season. But he is also 16th biggest money winner in European Tour history with €10 million in official earnings.
It’s just as well, considering that he is 124th in the Race to Dubai.
His season will largely be defined over the four weeks when he plays the French Open, the Barclays Scottish Open, the Open and the SAS Masters without a break. There is huge money on offer for the dapper Dubliner, who consistently describes golf as “a numbers game.”
In McGinley’s case, the numbers are scary:
Money list: €120,742 (124th - his worst since he turned pro in 1992 and finished 97th)
Stroke average: 72.24 (166th - his worst since his rookie season in ‘92)
Driving accuracy: 58.9 % (106th - a serious decline from 15th last season)
Driving distance: 283.8 yards (130th - nine yards shorter than he was four years ago)
Greens in regulation: 62.6 % (172nd - he was 6th in 2001 and 27th last year)
Putts per GIR: 1.782 (61st - his best since 2005, thankfully)
Putts per round: 29.5 (58th - better than 84th last year)
Scrambles: 53.4 % (103rd on tour. Padraig Harrington leads with 79.6 %)
Sand saves: 52.8 % (a big improvement on last year’s 49.5 %).
After a year of squabbles, according to tour insiders, he split with caddie Darren Reynolds after the European Open and now uses Pete “The Pro” Futcher.
It was their first missed cut together and McGinley’s second in a row in Munich. The course has always had good memories for him as it was in the Bavarian capital that he secured his three Ryder Cup caps.
This year he is taking his first step towards a future Ryder Cup captaincy by skippering the Great Britain and Ireland side for “The Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros.”
Remaining among the European Tour elite is vital if he is to become the first Irishman to captain a Ryder Cup side. Like his old pal Harrington, he’ll be hoping to see the light in Paris next week .... on one of the toughest driving courses on tour.