Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley fails to lead by example at Welsh Open
Captain Paul McGinley today struck the very first shot in the Ryder Cup qualifying race - and 10 minutes later carded the first bogey in the year-long process.
McGinley, who will lead Europe's quest for an eighth win in the last 10 biennial contests at Gleneagles next year, was in the first group out at 7:25am in the opening round of the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
With the Ryder Cup trophy on the first tee alongside him, the 46-year-old Dubliner found heavy rough with his drive and was forced to hack out onto the fairway, from where he was unable to save par.
Playing partner Espen Kofstad, who won the Challenge Tour last season, made a more impressive start with birdies at the first two holes to claim a share of the early lead with Finland's Mikko Ilonen and Italian Francesco Molinari.
Molinari played in the last two Ryder Cup victories and is the only member of the team responsible for the 'Miracle at Medinah' playing in Wales, with many of Jose Maria Olazabal's side contesting the lucrative FedEx Cup play-off events in the United States.
Starting from the 11th, Molinari and playing partner Ilonen had both birdied the opening hole and also picked up shots on the 12th, while the third member of the group, Tommy Fleetwood, had birdied the 11th.
Fleetwood won his maiden European Tour title in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Sunday, beating Stephen Gallacher and Ricardo Gonzalez on the first hole of a sudden death play-off on the Centenary Course which will host the Ryder Cup next September.
McGinley got back to level par with a birdie on the fifth but remained three off the lead as Ilonen had carded his third birdie of the day on the 14th.
Molinari had dropped a shot on the 13th but holed his second shot on the short par-four 15th for an eagle two, only to drop a shot on the 16th to fall back to two under.
That was in a 10-way tie for second place alongside the likes of English trio Chris Wood, Danny Willett and Robert Rock, as well American Peter Uihlein who was celebrating his 24th birthday today.
Molinari, whose halved match with Tiger Woods at Medinah ensured Europe won the cup outright, was enduring a real rollercoaster round, running up a triple-bogey six on the 17th and then missing a tap-in on the first to take a double-bogey six there.
Ilonen had missed an almost identical putt moments earlier to also take six but bounced back with a birdie on the par-five second to lie two under, one off the lead now shared by Rock, Wood, Portugal's Ricardo Santos and Wales' Gareth Wright.