Paul McGinley proved he’s more than just a businessman or a Ryder Cup captaincy contender when he closed with a flawless six under par 65 to share sixth place, two shots behind winner Thongchai Jaidee in the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
Just a month after finish seventh in the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea and playing in just his seventh event of the season, the world No 410 earned his biggest cheque for nearly four years when he pocketed €72,400 to move up to 64th in the Race to Dubai standings.
For a player hoping to convince the Tournament Committee early next year that he will be in touch with the players as a potential Ryder Cup captain at Gleneagles in 2014, yesterday’s cheque will go a long way towards ensuring that he will not be relying on his position as one of Top 40 earners in the Career Money list when he’s planning his 2013 schedule.
The 45-year old Dubliner is far from a shoe in for the skipper’s job in Scotland with home hero Paul Lawrie likely to receive support following his return to form over the past two years and his likely appearance in Jose Maria Olazabal’s side for Medinah in September.
It’s important that McGinley remains relevant as a tour player and he hopes that his latest success will signal the start of what he described as “an Indian summer” in his career.
“I played really well all week to be honest. Wednesday and Thursday are probably as good as I ever played in my life,” McGinley said. “I played marvellous. I didn’t score as well. I guess I could probably say the same all three days, I played much better than I scored and today I probably scored a little better than I played.”
Unable to practice or play as much as he did in the past following a series of knee operations in recent seasons as well as a niggling wrist problem, McGinley has spent time building up new businesses for his future beyond tournament golf such the ClubsToHire.com brand and his burgeoning course design activities.
Asked my Sky Sports if he had rededicated himself to the playing side of the game, he said: “Yeah, there’s no doubt, I have got a really clear focus. I’m really focussed this year and spent a lot of time last few years setting up businesses and that’s gone very well.
“I’ve got seven golf courses under construction at the moment and that’s taken up a lot of time but to be honest it’s worked in my favour, because it’s given me a freshness when I play golf.
“I haven’t played a whole lot, but I’ve played well in all my tournaments so far this year and hopefully I can keep that up.”
Watched by his children, who jetted out with him for a family holiday in Portugal straight after the tournament, he said: “I might have a little bit of an Indian summer in my career, I’m 45 years old now so there’s still a chance for me to do some good.
“They are starting to play golf. We are actually going to Portugal on holiday for five days, and we’ll play golf every day. The little one keeps the score. It’s always a lot of fun.”
Advised by his knee surgeon to play a curtailed schedule early in the season, McGinley has concentrated on his fitness and flexibilty.
“Because I’ve played less, it’s better,” he said of his ailments. “The more I played, the end of last year, it got sore after a big long season. Trying to pace myself a bit more this year. I’m not doing as much gym work. I’m doing more swimming, more loosening out and less emphasis on muscle and more on flexibility.”
He has no plans to have more surgery in the near future and insists he’s still ambitious in the game.
“Of course, I’ve played very well this year, maybe not [achieving] the heights in terms of results but I’ve certainly played well and there’s a freshness to me and a focus to me.
“The businesses that I’ve spent time doing are up and running now and things are going well. That’s been a lot of fun doing but that’s given me a real freshness when I have gone to practise and when I have gone to play.
“[I had a good finish in Korea], and I played well in Qatar, even though I missed the cut by a shot, didn’t putt very well. And then I played great in Sicily and missed the cut and played unbelievable, but putted horrendously. But I’ve putted better the last few weeks, and hence, the score is a bit better.”
Peter Lawrie took his earnings for the past fortnight to more than €275,000 and moved up to 35th in the Race to Dubai standings when he signed off with a 67 to share eighth place, three shots behind the winner on three under and earn €50,243.
Jaidee closed with a 72 to win his fifth European Tour event but only his first outside Asia to finish a shot clear of Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño, Dane Thomas Bjorn, South Africa’s Richard Sterne and Holland’s Joost Luiten on six under par.
However, the biggest talking point of the day was the one-stroke penalty handed out to Ryder Cup player Ross Fisher for slow play.
The Englishman left the scene of his 2010 Ryder Cup triumph in angry mood yesterday and facing a €7,400 fine after being penalised when only a stroke off the lead at the time.
“I don’t think it’s justice, but there you go,” said Fisher, who was told about the punishment on the 15th tee with four holes to play and fell away to joint sixth place.
According to agency reports:
Although it is only 10 months since the European Tour last handed out a stroke penalty, it is thought to be decades since someone in the final group on the final day had action taken against them for slow play.
Tour chief referee John Paramor was the man who stepped in after giving Fisher, Jaidee and Luiten a warning as early as the sixth hole that they needed to speed up. Then came Fisher’s second shot to the par-five 11th. As the second of the group to play he was allowed 40 seconds plus a few more because of the bad weather, but took 57 seconds.
“It was a clear bad time,” said Paramor. “Then on the 14th green he took 55 seconds over his first putt. “I told him before he teed off at the 15th – and I don’t think he was particularly happy.”
Fisher, two behind, failed to birdie the driveable par four, bogeyed the short 17th and finished with a two-over-par 73.
Damien McGrane finished in joint-28th place following a closing 75 while Simon Thornton shot a closing 69 to share 35th on four over, earning €15,430 to move up to 165th in the money list with €37,417 from seven starts.