Injury forces McGinley into Wentworth withdrawal
Paul McGinley is a late withdrawal from the $7 million BMW PGA Championship which starts at Wentworth tomorrow.
The 2014 winning Ryder Cup captain had looked forward to the tournament with added anticipation as he was involved with Thomas Bjorn, the 2018 European Ryder Cup captain, in advising on the extensive upgrades to the West Course at Wentworth through the last year.
The Irishman had qualified for the European Tour's flagship event via his ranking on the all-time Tour money list, and early in the week it was all systems go until he suffered a recurrence of a back injury.
"I was very disappointed to withdraw this morning with the recurrence of the same lower back injury that has been a problem for a few years," McGinley said last night.
"I was really looking forward to playing, having been so involved in the changes to the course."
His absence means that six Irish players are in the field. Shane Lowry, Darren Clarke and Pádraig Harrington have an early start in round one tomorrow. They tee off at 8.35am, 8.45am, and 8.55am respectively.
Damien McGrane plays at 11.35am, Paul Dunne is off at 3.30pm, and Old Conna club professional Neil O'Briain is in the final three-ball of the day, teeing off at 3.40pm.
Meanwhile, Leona Maguire's prospects of a successful LPGA career were enhanced by her latest performance at the elite NCAA championships after which she was hailed as "the smartest player I ever coached" by Duke University's golf team mentor Dan Brooks.
World number one Maguire came agonisingly close to winning the coveted NCAA title when she finished joint-second on 218 (+2) with Jennifer Kupcho (Wake Forest), just a shot behind winner Monica Vaughn of Arizona State.
Brooks, 32 years in charge of the Duke Blue Devils, has had current LPGA stars Brittany Lang, Celine Boutier and Amanda Blumenherst on the University's team in the past, and Maguire rates higher in his estimation as a cool-headed course strategist.
"Don't tell her I said this, but she's probably the smartest player I've ever coached, and you needed to be really smart out there on this course," said Brooks. "I just think she was fantastic. You know, when I was in there with her and listening to how she thinks, it's incredible what you can learn from somebody that plays at her level."
Maguire battled hard in the weather-affected championship played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois, but came up just short at the death. Two years ago she also finished joint-second at the NCAA finals, the biggest event on the US women's collegiate circuit.