Another false dawn or the beginning of something big for Paul McGinley?

On a day when Rory McIlroy signalled his intent by outscoring his Race to Dubai rival Lee Westwood by four shots with an opening 67, McGinley birdied three of his last four holes for a five under 66 in the Omega European Masters at Crans.

Must be Ryder Cup time again.

Making his first visit to the Swiss Alps for 14 years, he was pleased as punch with himself after producing what he admitted was his first, quality performance of a bitterly disappointing season.

“That’s what’s pleased me most today. I have shot a lot of low rounds this year but I have normally done it by holing a lot of putts. Today I played a really good round of golf.

"I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. I hit a lot of quality shots and took on pins. I am really pleased because it is something that has been missing from my game this year.

“It was nice to finish with three birdies in the last four but even if I had finished with four pars and walked off at two under, I would have been pleased because I haven’t played quality golf at all during the season at any stage, but this was.”

Brett Rumford leads by one from Simon Dyson after a stunning 62 that featured a back nine of just 28 shots. The former Irish Open champion was two over after five after the shock of hitting a lady spectator just above the eye with his opening drive. Amazingly, he settled down to play the next 13 holes in an incredible 11 under par.

“I got my putter running hot," he said. "I don't know where this came from."

McGinley had 29 putts, five more than Rumford, in a seven birdie round.

He missed just one fairway and only two greens. 

The question is: Can he keep it going?

In July's Barclays Scottish Open he opened with a 65 and finished 41st. In the KLM Open in Holland two weeks ago, he started with a 64 and could only manage 26th.

Ranked 129th in the Race to Dubai, he could do with some of the consistency shown by McIlroy, who started his Ryder Cup campaign with a birdie and followed it with an eagle two by holing his 104-yard wedge

He failed to turn that start in something spectacular, however, and after 12 pars in a row he birdied the par five 15th for his 67 as Graeme McDowell shot 68 and Darren Clarke a 69.

Gareth Maybin and the struggling Gary Murphy had 70s, Michael Hoey a level par 71 and Shane Lowry a 72.

Murphy faces a nervous second round as he bids to save his tour card but McGinley will be keen not to get light-headed at the top of the leaderboard.....5,000 feet above sea level.