GOLF: Paul McGinley received a massive confidence boost at the Ballantines championship in South Korea yesterday as he finished seventh to pick up his best payday on the European Tour since October 2009.
The 45-year-old Dubliner has been battling with chronic knee problems so his play over the four days, including a course record-equalling 65 on the penultimate day, shows that he can still deliver on the course.
A sweet up-and-down for birdie out of a back bunker at 18 brought a final-round 70 to a satisfying climax and eased him to a share of seventh with Alex Noren, Ross Fisher, George Coetzee and Felipe Aguilar on nine-under, which was worth €51,068 to each of them.
McGinley can now look forward to a busy summer, particularly the Irish Open at Royal Portrush.
"The Irish Open is going to be great in Portrush this year," said McGinley, whose fond memories of playing the world famous links as an amateur were refreshed 10 days ago when he made a reconnaissance trip to the Causeway Coast.
McGinley twice reached the final of the North of Ireland Amateur Championship on the Dunluce course, losing out only to Darren Clarke in 1990 and Garth McGimpsey the following year. "It was so nice to see that course once again," he enthused. "I hadn't played it since I was an amateur and I'm looking forward to going up there again in June."
Though he finished nine behind runaway winner Bernd Wiesberger (26), from Austria, McGinley had little chance of challenging for victory at the weekend after ending up on the tougher side of the draw by far on the opening two days of the tournament.
In fairness, Wiesberger completed his first win on the European Tour in exemplary fashion, going bogey-free over his final three rounds on a challenging golf course.
Following back-to-back 65s on Friday and Saturday, he took a five-stroke lead into Sunday and was still a handful ahead of his closest rival, Scotland's Richie Ramsay, after yesterday's closing 68.
McGinley played his final 18 holes with Miguel Angel Jimenez, the Spaniard viewed as the Irishman's leading rival for the captaincy of the European Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014.
An unfortunate double-bogey six for the Irishman at the ninth would prove decisive in their fascinating "duel". Though he made an untidy bogey six at the last, a final-round 69 left Jimenez just one ahead of McGinley in a tie for fifth.