McGinley growing in confidence

Paul McGinley was smiling again after storming back from the brink of disaster with a sensational back nine performance.

The Dubliner, 42, denied earlier this week that he has become the Mr Angry of the European Tour after a nightmare start to the season made his familiar smile a thing of the past.

But after rescuing a grim front nine with a red-hot homeward run, he was looking forward to two confidence-boosting rounds at the weekend.

Desperate from some consistency, the world No 200 said: “I've had a pretty poor year up to now and there’s no doubt that my confidence is low.

“When you've had a long run like I've had of playing pretty averagely, it's tough. And that was so great about today because my back was to the wall.”

Four bogeys and a solitary birdie on the front nine left McGinley teetering on the cut line at four-over par.

But the three-time Ryder Cup winner birdied the 12th and 14th and lipped out for eagle on the 17th to haul himself back into the mix.

Pleased as punch with his performance despite a closing bogey, he said: “I came back and shot a great back nine to make the cut and get myself pretty much into the middle of the pack.

“Confidence comes from good performances, and that was a good performance.

“It gets me in the middle of the tournament and a strong weekend would be a great stepping stone for me for the rest of the season.

"I didn't play very well on the front nine. Yes it was difficult but it's still very playable. It's a major championship, there are a lot of really, really tough shots required out there, there is a lot of skill required, there's a high level of golf required. And it's a wonderful test.”

McGinley has been working hard on his short game and putting with former tour pro Mark Roe.

And while he burned the edge of the hole more times than he’d care to remember, he believes he is close to putting the lights out for the first time in years.

He said: "Today I holed a couple but I still had a load of rims as well too. I'm very close to having a brilliant day on the greens.

“I really am feeling I'm putting well but not actually holing as many with the good putts that I'm hitting.”

Winning the title is looking too far ahead for McGinley, who has had just eight top-10s in the last two years.

He’d gladly settle for a decent four round performance, explaining: "A result is just playing the way I have the last two days. I feel the scores will come if I play the shots. What's a result? Just to walk away thinking, 'Man, I gave myself a lot of good chances today' and having played well over four rounds.

"I've certainly done two and what I haven't been doing this year is putting four rounds together. I've had a lot of low scores but I haven't done it over a tournament of 72 holes so two more really good solid rounds and I think that's a good tournament for me.”