Wednesday 21 March 2018

Veteran McGinley keen to sharpen his ‘match fitness’

Karl Mc

GOLF might strike most people as a leisurely pursuit, but playing 72 holes over four days at a professional tour event demands an exceptionally high level of physical and mental fitness.

Ask Paul McGinley.

Dublin's Ryder Cup hero shot himself into contention at the Open de Andalucia with a magnificent second-round 66 in only his second tournament since undergoing knee surgery last November.

Yet after missing the cut on his return in Morocco the previous week, McGinley hadn't played three or more consecutive rounds in nearly five months.

A disappointing 74 on Saturday sent him tumbling down the leaderboard and out of contention, and even though he played better on Sunday (posting a level-par 70), McGinley admits: "I really felt fatigued at the weekend.

"As any footballer out there will understand, my match-fitness really is not quite up to it yet."

McGinley does up to three sessions each day in the gym as his rehab continues and feels physically stronger than ever. However, he believes he must now boost his aerobic fitness to become sharp enough to compete over four days "at this level".

Yet that's not so easy for the 43-year-old, who must nurse his creaking left knee to continue playing. "Figuratively speaking, I have got to get more miles under my belt but I've got to be very careful, it's Catch 22."

So the Irishman will play no more than two tournaments in succession until mid-summer, when he hopes the rehabilitation programme on his left knee should be complete.

His forthcoming outings will be next month's Volvo China Open and Ballantines Championship in Korea. McGinley will then skip the Italian and Spanish Opens, returning to action in Majorca on May 13, followed by the BMW PGA at Wentworth.

He'll rest-up the week of the Madrid Masters, hoping to be in peak form and physical condition for the Welsh Open at Celtic Manor, a key event if McGinley is to win one of Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie's three wild cards.

If his fitness was lacking last weekend, McGinley still performed with enough flair to suggest there's a lot more mileage yet in this Ryder Cup legend.

Irish Independent

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