Tuesday 28 March 2017

McGinley to take next step on road to redemption in Morocco

William S Callahan

Paul McGinley Photo: PA
Paul McGinley Photo: PA

Paul McGinley reaches a significant milestone on his road to redemption this weekend in the Moroccan resort city of Agadir.

Former Ryder Cup hero McGinley (44) could hardly ask for a more suitable challenge than the Royal Palace and Ocean Courses, which play host to the €1.5m Trophee Hassan II.

Bidding to regain form, confidence and full European Tour playing credentials after last season was undermined by injury, McGinley is playing this season on a career prize money exemption.

He showed signs of revival in Malaga last weekend after making the cut for the second time in five outings this season.

Last Saturday's 66, the Dubliner's first bogey-free round in a run of 20 stretching back to last October's Portuguese Masters, harked back to the glory days when he was a contender at Europe's elite events.

Sadly, McGinley fell back into mid-table with a 75 on Sunday but there were enough green shoots in Andalucia to boost his morale heading for Morocco's windswept Atlantic coast.

Gem

The first 36 holes of this weekend's event will be in a Pro-Am format on both courses, with only the professionals playing on Saturday and Sunday at the 6,844-yard Royal Palace, a lovely little gem designed by Robert Trent Jones.

Meanwhile, after missing the cut in Sicily and Malaga on his first two outings of 2011 -- after nearly four months recovering from a broken wrist -- Shane Lowry is hoping for a "real birthday treat" this weekend in Agadir -- he turns 24 on Saturday.

Darren Clarke, Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane and Michael Hoey make up the rest of the Irish contingent in Morocco, while Rebecca Coakley, Martina Gillen and Hazel Kavanagh play in the Ladies European Tour's Lalla Meryem Cup on Agadir's Soleil Golf Course.

Across the African continent in Nairobi, Gary Murphy and Niall Kearney tee it up in today's first round of the Kenya Open at the Muthaiga course.

Coakley, Gillen and Kearney were prominent among the 15 aspiring professional golfers to share €157,000 of grant aid allocated yesterday by the Team Ireland Golf Trust.

Trophee Hassan II,

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