McGinley turns 50: "The challenge for me is to be mentally engaged enough to ensure that I am competitive"

McGinley turns 50: "The challenge for me is to be mentally engaged enough to ensure that I am competitive"
 WATFORD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15:  Paul McGinley of Ireland hits his tee shot on the third hole during the third round of the British Masters at The Grove on October 15, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

WATFORD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15:  Paul McGinley of Ireland hits his tee shot on the third hole during the third round of the British Masters at The Grove on October 15, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Paul McGinley admits he must mentally prepare himself to compete with the best seniors in the world after he turned 50 on Friday and looked ahead to next year’s Senior Open in Wales.

Very much a pert-time player these days, the Dubliner got a wake up call at the PGA Tour Champions Q-School recently, where he finished near the back of the field.

With many commitments in business and as a TV analyst, he admits he will play a worldwide schedule of just 12 senior tournaments in 2017, including his debut in the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl next July,

According to the European Senior Tour, “McGinley’s major challenge – on and off the golf course – is to discover the ideal ‘life balance’ which will enable him to continue his career as a successful businessman, TV golf analyst and international golfer at Senior level."

He said: “I am fortunate to have a lot of other interests going on in my life outside golf, and naturally my mental focus on the course hasn’t been as sharp as it once was. However, I still enjoy playing the game, the people I play alongside and the competition. That is the challenge for me as I turn 50 – to get back into the right mental frame of mind to be competitive for the Senior Tour.

“I’ve watched a fair bit of senior golf for the past couple of years and studied the scores and there is no doubt that the standard is incredibly high. The challenge for me is to be mentally engaged enough to ensure that I am competitive enough to deal with that high standard of golf on the Senior Tour.”

He added: “I enjoy working for Sky Sports and I have a lot of business interests which I also enjoy. Add in a very active teenage family who are growing up at a rapid rate and it’s clear that I am now at the stage of my career where I have diverse range of interests and it’s a case of getting the balance between family, business and golf. I want to give it my best shot.”

As a player, McGinley’s biggest individual success came in the season-ending Volvo Masters in 2005, a year in which he finished a career-best third on the European money list. However, he truly excelled in the team format, never finishing on the losing side in ten appearances as player or captain in The Ryder Cup, Seve Trophy and Royal Trophy.

He holed the winning putt at The 2002 Ryder Cup at the Belfry – the first of three straight Ryder Cup successes as a player – and turned captaincy into a virtual art form with his astute management of the 2014 European side at Gleneagles.

Now McGinley has the chance to join up with his peers among the over-50s next year, and he is especially keen to test himself against many of the legends of the game at Royal Porthcawl from July 27-30.

He said: “I took a very close interest in the 2014 Senior Open at Porthcawl, which Bernhard Langer won so impressively by 13 shots. At the time, Bernhard was being touted as a potential wildcard for our Ryder Cup team and although I couldn’t seriously consider him, as he wasn’t competing directly against players who would be on the team, I felt it was an incredibly impressive effort.

“Bernhard is still very driven and focused on his golf and he’s certainly as fit as some of the guys in their 20s and 30s as he approaches his 60s. The quality of the scores most weeks proves just how good the standard is.”

McGinley has only played Royal Porthcawl’s classic links once previously but plans to rectify that in the build-up to the 2017 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex.

He explained: “When I was trying to make the 1991 Walker Cup side as an amateur, I made three appearances on mainland UK to put myself on the radar of the selectors. One of those events was the Welsh Amateur Stroke Play at Royal Porthcawl, where I came third. However I’ve not been back there since that summer of 1991.

“Fortunately, Porthcawl is not too far from my home in Sunningdale, so I can drive there and back in a day and have a close look at it ahead of the tournament. I certainly plan on doing that in April and May once the weather starts to improve. And, of course, I am also looking forward to St Andrews, the venue in 2018.”

Englishman Broadhurst will defend the title which he won at Carnoustie this year against stiff competition from golfing icons including Langer, Tom Watson, John Daly, Colin Montgomerie and Welsh legend Ian Woosnam. Also eligible to make a first Senior Open appearances are former Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal and local hero, Phillip Price of Wales.

American Ryder Cup players Steve Stricker and David Toms, the 2001 US PGA Champion, could also make their Senior Open debuts after passing their 50th birthdays.

See an amazing line-up of former Major Champions and Ryder Cup stars take to the fairways of Royal Porthcawl for the 2017 Senior Open Championship. Tickets are on sale now and the early booking discount deadline has been extended. Hospitality packages are also available.

For tickets and more information, visit www.senioropenchampionship.com or call +44 (0) 800 023 2557.