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Friday 18 April 2014

McGinley won't be playing captain

Paul McGinley carded a four-under-par 68

Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has dismissed the notion of qualifying for his own side, despite showing some prospective team members how it is done in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

McGinley carded a four-under-par 68 on the Centenary Course which will stage the biennial contest next year to lie three shots behind joint leaders Bernd Wiesberger and Ricardo Gonzalez.

The 46-year-old said the "chances were slim" of him making a fourth Ryder Cup team as a player when he was appointed captain in January, but was more emphatic after a round containing five birdies and just one bogey.

"To be honest I think I won't even have myself on the points list," said McGinley, who holed the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002 and also played in the record victories in 2004 and 2006.

"If I start playing well it's a big bonus but one thing is for sure, there's no way I can be a playing captain. Let's put it in perspective, I've had a good round today but I've had a mediocre season, probably a poor season, to be honest so far."

McGinley felt a course playing much firmer than in previous years and with less severe rough suited his game, but he will seek input from likely team members before deciding how to make the most of home advantage next year.

"The jury is still out at the moment, but it's been a huge learning curve to go to the other end of the scale in terms of the set up of the golf course this week," added McGinley, who took plenty of notes in his yardage book on the way round.

"I lost a ball with my second shot into the 15th last year and I was probably three yards left of the green. This year it's good rough, but not unplayable. I don't know which way we'll go yet, but it's good to get both perspectives."

Wiesberger, who lost out in a five-man play-off here two years ago but won twice on the European Tour last season, carded a flawless 65 which was later matched by Argentinian Gonzalez, who had seven birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.

The Austrian said: "If you're in a play-off and you have to settle for second obviously you're disappointed, but at the time I was not safe with my card so it was progress for me.

"Coming back I can feed off those good memories and I like playing in these colder conditions as well, I think it suits me."

On a crowded leaderboard Spain's Ignacio Garrido, Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, Australian Brett Rumford and English trio Mark Foster, Ross Fisher and Oliver Fisher were just one off the lead, with former amateur star Tom Lewis another stroke back.

Garrido won the PGA Championship, the European Tour's flagship event, at Wentworth in 2003 but is currently 144th on the Race to Dubai after struggling with glandular fever this season.

"I probably should have taken a medical exemption but I don't really believe in them," the 41-year-old said. "And it's not like a normal illness where you feel it all the time. You wake up in the morning and feel okay but then after four holes my legs are hurting and you start losing your focus because you've got no energy.

"Finally after the Scottish Open I decided to take as much time off as I needed and now I feel strong because I have been so weak for so long. It's weird."

At 193rd, Lewis is even further down the money list than Garrido but recovered from a double bogey on the third to card a five-under-par 67.

Lewis burst onto the scene with an opening 65 at Royal St George's in 2011, the lowest score by an amateur in Open Championship history giving him a share of the lead.

He went on to finish 30th and win the silver medal as leading amateur before turning professional and winning the Portugal Masters in just his third event in the paid ranks.

However, the 22-year-old finished a lowly 117th on the money list in 2012 and his share of 30th in the Austrian Open in June this year was the only time he had made a halfway cut in 11 events.

"I was on a high coming from the Open and probably didn't know what to expect and that probably played in my favour, whereas now I know how tough it is out here," said Lewis, who is now working with Jonny Wilkinson's former kicking guru Dave Alred.

"No-one tries to play badly but I think I wasn't ready to win and it gave me two years to learn. Instead of learning on the Challenge Tour and building myself up, I did it in the limelight. It's been better for me long term, even though the results have not come my way."

Lewis' new house around the corner from his parents is due to be finished on Friday, but he admitted ruefully: "We bought it and extended it. I maybe went over the top with the fancy stuff which set us back a bit. I thought I would have played a little bit better than I have."

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