McGinley top choice - McIlroy
Rory McIlroy was so impressed at how Paul McGinley handled the role of Vivendi Trophy-winning captain last year that he feels the Dubliner must be chosen as one of Europe's Ryder Cup vice-captains.
Captain Colin Montgomerie yesterday confirmed in Versailles that he will make known his backroom team on July 20.
Montgomerie has purposely chosen the Tuesday after next fortnight's British Open to give every potential vice-captain -- including McGinley, Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez -- the chance still to qualify automatically for his team.
But should McGinley, who is ranked 76th on the European Ryder Cup points table, not improve his standing substantially at the Home of Golf, then McIlroy -- who played under McGinley in the Vivendi Trophy -- says Montgomerie has to pick him as a vice-captain.
"Paul was just up for it at the Vivendi Trophy and he was such a great motivator," said McIlroy yesterday after carding a three-under-par 68 in the first round of the French Open.
"So, it would be awesome if Monty was to pick Paul as a vice-captain. Paul knows all the guys and gets on well with everyone. He's highly respected and to have played in three straight winning Ryder Cup teams is going to be an enormous plus for Europe.
"To have someone like Paul, with his knowledge and experience in the team room and out on the course, would be a huge lift for the European cause.
"However, knowing Paul as well as I do, I know how much he still wants to play his way into the team, but if that should not transpire then what a plus it will be for all of us to have him as one of Monty's vice-captains."
Montgomerie indicated he will speak with all potential vice-captains while in Versailles, including Jose Maria Olazabal, who on Wednesday ruled himself out of the position.
Dutchman, meanwhile, Robert Jan Derksen was at the top of the pile after the opening round of the €3m French Open, his sizzling eight-under-par 63 leaving him three ahead of the field.
McIlroy and Damien McGrane lead the Irish contingent on three-under.
McIlroy, ranked No 10 in the world, chose an all-black outfit on a day of soaring temperatures, but defied the heat to break 70 -- the first time he has managed such a feat in the first round of a European Tour event since February's Dubai Desert Classic.
"It was a solid opening round and I don't think I have shot in the 60s in an opening round for some time," he said.
"So, it was nice to shoot a 68 and that is something I can certainly build on. I certainly gave myself plenty of chances."
Michael Hoey posted a two-under-par 69, while Shane Lowry made sure he was on the tee well ahead of his 12.30 tee-time. Twelve months ago, Lowry got his time mixed up and had to scurry down a grass embankment to be on the tee with just seconds to spare.
However, he carded a 73 -- four strokes poorer than last year.
Peter Lawrie shot 71, Simon Thornton 72, Gareth Maybin 74, and Darren Clarke and McGinley 75s.
'Part-timer' Jean van de Velde was a surprise contender. The 44-year-old Frenchman -- famed for throwing away the 1999 British Open title with a triple-bogey on the 18th at Carnoustie -- has given up playing full-time but showed his old flair in a five-under-par 66 to lie joint second. Van de Velde, whose career has been beset by injuries, plays only a handful of events these days.
"I came here with no expectation, but I know the course like the back of my hand," he said. I'm playing only six or seven events a year. There are two tournaments I would like to play for the rest of my life, the French Open and the British Open."
Meanwhile, world No 3 Lee Westwood has withdrawn from this month's Irish Open at Killarney. Westwood confirmed after carding a first-round one-under-par 70 that he will take a fortnight's break from the game after the British Open. The Englishman wants to allow his injured right ankle to recover and despite being cleared of any blood clot after Wednesday's scare, he fears there may be an older injury in his ankle.
it took less than 10 seconds for a judging panel yesterday to vote Graeme McDowell European Tour 'Player of the Month' for June in recognition of his US Open triumph.
Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell led by one shot after the first round of the The Princess tournament when carding seven birdies in a flawless seven-under-par 64 in the Challenge Tour event at Båstad GC in Sweden.
Fellow Ulsterman and room-mate Gareth Shaw is two shots behind.
Tiger Woods was well placed on one-under in the first round of the AT&T National until he fell away with bogeys at the 14th and the 16th and a double-bogey at the 17th for a three-over-par 73. He also missed a short putt for birdie on 18. He is seven shots off the pace at the Aronimink GC in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. India's Arjun Atwal, American duo Nick Watney and Joe Ogilvie and Australia's Jason Day are tied for the lead on four-under.