Irish Open withdrawal among worst disappointments of my career, says Paul McGinley
Paul McGinley was gutted that he had to withdraw from yesterday's final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
McGinley (48) has played relatively little golf in the last couple of seasons, particularly in 2014 leading up to what proved to be a glorious captaincy of the winning European Ryder Cup team.
He used all his experience and love of links golf to qualify for the weekend, but it was all to no avail as a back injury prevented him taking his place on the tee alongside Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand at 11.0 yesterday.
McGinley described the withdrawal as "one of my biggest disappointments in my whole career", and said that pulling out of a Major could not make him feel as bad as this withdrawal.
"I've played once in five months, it's the Irish Open, I had a good position on a bright, breezy day, and a chance to move up the leaderboard," he said.
"It's great to be competing again, that's why it hurts so much. It's massively disappointing to have that taken away from me, particularly in your home Open.
"Even pulling out of a Major wouldn't have hurt as much as this."
The problem was located in his lower back, and after his Saturday round, it seized up. He had intensive treatment including acupuncture but after trying to hit balls on the range, he had to opt out.
" I can't remember ever withdrawing during a tournament before," said McGinley.
Five other Irish players teed it up yesterday, and the top home player of the tournament was Darren Clarke in joint 28th on six over par following his second successive 71 of the weekend.
Clarke has been so hard on himself all week, yet he was not far off making a serious challenge. Tee to green, very good. On and around the greens, very poor by his own estimation.
"I had a few three-putts again. My speed has been poor all week, and to play in tough conditions like this, your speed has got to be good. I didn't have any feel on the greens at all," said Clarke.
Graeme McDowell shot 75 to finish on seven-over, and felt the combination of course difficulty and bad weather made the challenge "borderline too difficult."
"But what is too difficult? It's very hard out there. I think the European Tour did a nice job setting the course up, not getting too tough with the pins," he said.
"This is just a hard golf course, simple as. I enjoyed it. It's got some fantastic golf holes and I really enjoyed the atmosphere this year."
Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry each finished on ten-over, with rounds of 76, and 77 respectively. They played in slightly better weather than the afternoon starters, but got no momentum.
"I missed a lot of short putts and that really killed me off in the last two and a half rounds, but I'm reasonably happy going forward," said Harrington.
Lowry didn't put a tooth in his verdict. "It was a quite unenjoyable day. I played okay but really struggled on the greens again," he said.
Simon Thornton, who is attached to Royal County Down, got no advantage from local knowledge, taking 80 for 14-over.