Monday 16 January 2017

McGinley tests mettle in US Q-School finale

Published 26/11/2016 | 02:30

McGinley, who turns 50 on December 16, travelled to Florida yesterday to prepare for the final stage of PGA Tour Champions qualifying at Lake Buena Vista from next Tuesday to Friday (November 29-December 2). Photo: Sportsfile
McGinley, who turns 50 on December 16, travelled to Florida yesterday to prepare for the final stage of PGA Tour Champions qualifying at Lake Buena Vista from next Tuesday to Friday (November 29-December 2). Photo: Sportsfile

Paul McGinley and Stephanie Meadow are the last two Irish golfers facing a Qualifying School test this season.

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McGinley, who turns 50 on December 16, travelled to Florida yesterday to prepare for the final stage of PGA Tour Champions qualifying at Lake Buena Vista from next Tuesday to Friday (November 29-December 2).

Meadow makes another bid to earn her playing rights on the LPGA Tour at Daytona Beach, also in Florida.

The Stage III final qualifying takes place over 90 holes from Wednesday, November 30, to Sunday, December 4.

After four rounds, a cut will be made to put the top 70 and ties through to the final round, competing for full LPGA cards. The exact number of cards available has not yet been announced, but all the players who complete 72 holes will get a card for the secondary Symetra Tour.

Leona Maguire, the world's number one amateur, was scheduled to tee it up next week but she announced on Wednesday that she would stay amateur and focus on her studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, for the next 18 months.

McGinley came through Stage II of the Champions Tour in Florida, finishing eighth of 23 who made it through to the final qualifying.

He was one of a number of notable Europeans who also play at Lake Buena Vista next week.

Jean Van De Velde, destined forever to be the man whose 72nd-hole meltdown cost him the 1999 Open Championship; Stephen Dodd, winner of the Irish Open at Carton House in 2005; former Ryder Cup player Philip Price; and veteran Barry Lane will join McGinley in the field, all seeking a Tour card.

This is a big challenge, because only the top five, not including ties, get full playing rights on the 2017 Champions Tour.

McGinley looks forward to testing his mettle in Florida but it's not make-or-break for him.

For a start, he can continue to play European Tour events based on his ranking in the all-time money list.

The European Seniors will be available to him, and he will have the opportunity to play a number of Champions Tour events irrespective of how he performs in the Tour School qualifying.

"I'll probably play three or four events on the European Tour, maybe three on the European seniors, and probably another six or seven on the American seniors, as well.

Opportunity

"I'll get some invites next year, but if I get my card, that will give me more options.

"Even if I get my card, I probably wouldn't play much more than that.

"I've got too many other commitments and a lot going on off the course which I enjoy.

"All in all, between European Tour and all the senior tournaments, I can't see myself playing much more than 13 weeks or so next year," he said.

Meanwhile in Australia, hard as they tried, the odds lengthened against Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell emulating McGinley and Pádraig Harrington in winning the World Cup of Golf.

The wait for a third Irish victory to follow Christy O'Connor Senior and Harry Bradshaw (1958), and McGinley/Harrington (1997) goes on.

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