Sport Golf

Saturday 24 June 2017

McGinley faces two months on sideline

GOLF

Bernie McGuire

Paul McGinley is staring at an eighth operation on his troublesome knees that will see the triple Ryder Cup winning star sidelined from competition for close to two months.

After carding a level-par 72 on the opening day of the Madrid Masters at El Encin Golf Hotel, McGinley revealed that he is to undergo further keyhole surgery on the right knee later next month.

"I've had six operations already on my left knee, but this next operation will be the second on my right knee," he said.

"I'm going back into hospital for surgery after playing out in Singapore and Johor. It will mean missing next year's Dubai Desert Classic, but then I'm going to play the Pebble Beach AT & T Pro-Am with Dermot Desmond as my playing partner.

"I'll just be in and out of hospital over a couple of days and it's just to clean out some more debris in and around the kneecap."

There is some added pain for McGinley at the moment, as he has not yet been confirmed to contest the Andalucia Masters later this month -- he had the last of his four Tour victories six years ago in this tournament at Valderrama.

As he approached the Madrid Masters scorer's hut yesterday, he asked Tour official, Jose Maria Zamora: "How's my Andalucia Masters invitation going?"

"Don't worry Paul, you are top of the list," Zamora replied.

England's Ross McGowan had the honour of the first official El Encin course record after an eight-under-par 64 to end the round one stroke clear of tournament host Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, along with Australia's former Irish Open winner Brett Rumford and Italy's Lorenzo Gagli.

McGowan won the event two years ago, recording a career best 60 on the third day to set a new Centro Nacional de Golf course low in the Spanish capital.

However, while McGinley faces a relatively minor operation, there could be major surgery on the young El Encin course, with many players, including World No 1 and defending champion Luke Donald, critical of the severe sloping of the greens.

Donald, who won Wednesday's Pro-Am with Seve Ballesteros' eldest son, Javier, as one of his amateur partners, said: "The greens are very slopy and if you miss them on the wrong side, you are in serious trouble." Donald recorded a 68 yesterday.

McGinley is also not a fan of the Robert Van Hagge, Smelek and Baril designed greens.

"It is certainly not a golf course I would design as the slopes on the greens are too severe," said McGinley.

"Having said that, the slopes are very similar to St Andrews and Augusta National -- and they're considered masterpieces. So, who is right and who is wrong?"

diplomatic

How's that for a diplomatic answer?

"But I enjoyed the challenge today and my game is pretty good, so a 72 is about as bad a score as I could have shot," he added.

"However, if you are on the wrong side of the pins, as I was a few times, you are in trouble."

Gareth Maybin heads Ireland's three-man contingent at three-under-par and benefitted from having his good friend and fellow Ballyclare member Simon McConnell as caddy.

"Simon plays off plus two at Ballyclare, so he's a pretty tidy golfer and he's going to caddy for me for these two weeks," said Maybin.

Maybin capped his round by landing a lob-wedge to three inches at the par four 17th for the easiest of birdies.

Damien McGrane is a shot further back after recording a two-under-par 70.

"I didn't really capitalise on the par fives, but it's nice to play a new venue. It's refreshing and so different to be rocking up to the same courses every year," he said.

Madrid Masters,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 11.0

Irish Independent

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