Paul McGinley. Remember him? He's one of the top candidates for the 2014 European Ryder Cup captaincy. He'll take his first step down that road at the end of next month when he captains the Great Britain and Ireland side against Continental Europe in the Vivendi Trophy (the new name for the Seve Trophy).

A political mover and shaker in European Tour circles, McGinley showed in the KLM Open at links-like Kennemer that he can still play this game when he opened with a six under par 64 to share the first round lead with Scotland's Gary Orr.

He was second to Darren Clarke in this event last year and Clarke showed his liking for the course when he opened with a 65, the same mark as Peter Lawrie and his new caddie, Brian Martin. Martin used to caddie for Gary Murphy.

Bar Murphy, who looks certain now to lose his card after a 76 left him facing his 13th missed cut of the 2009 season, it was a great day for most of the Irish contingent.

Shane Lowry shot 66 and Gareth Maybin and Damien McGrane weighed in 67s.

McGinley, of course, was back on his old hobby horse of course management trumping the 8,000 yard golf course but he also took time out to point out that he'll be missing stars like Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Padraig Harrington in the Vivendi Trophy because of the FedEx Cup.

As things stand, only Casey is inside the top 30 in the FedEx rankings that qualify for the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship. Perhaps he already knows that whether they qualify or not, Poulter and Harrington won't make the trip to Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche near Paris from September 24-27.

"It was a good day. I had two purple patches during the day. One on the front nine and one on the back nine," said McGinley who bogeyed his 17th hole, the par three eighth. "On the front nine I had four birdies in a row and on the back nine I had an eagle and a birdie at consecutive holes.

"It is an old fashioned golf course and most of the golf courses we play nowadays are stretched out to seven thousand four, five, six, seven hundred yards long. This is not that. Shaping the ball and course management are big things."

As for The Vivendi Trophy, he said: "I have an idea what I want to do for the week, how we are going to attack and how we are going to try and win. I am looking forward to putting it into place and seeing how good a captain I am going to be because that is the big question mark for me too. We are going to have to play well because it is a very strong European team. The have only got Sergio missing, who is playing in the FedEx series, whereas we have three. Casey, Poulter and Harrington. Our team is going to be weaker because of the FedEx Cup. We will be up against it. If something happens and one of them happens to play, it will be a nice boost. But I am not expecting it."

Garcia missing the Vivendi for the FedEx? That looks unlikely. The Spaniard's participation in the first play-off event, never mind the Tour Championship, is in doubt because he was 115th in the rankings before this week's Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, which is the last regular season event before the top 125 play next week's Barclays. 

Lawrie spoke publicly for the first time about caddie Dermot Byrne's decision to abandon ship last month and leave him for Lowry.

"We gelled lovely. He played boys golf with me a long time ago," Lawrie said of new bag man Martin. "My (old) caddie actually left me, which is an unusual event. We had been together for four and a half years and he felt he could go on to somebody else. So be it."

Byrne enjoyed his best day ever with Lowry as they opened with a four under 66. It was just the third sub-par round by the Clara man on tour since his spectacular win at Baltray.

Jonathan Caldwell - Q-School bound after a disappointing rookie season - had a one over par 71. Michael Hoey, as unpredictable as the Irish weather, was one under after seven holes to go but the dropped 10 shots to post a 79.