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Paul McGinley returns to action in Austria

Ryder Cup star Paul McGinley declined the option favored by many of his contemporaries in embarking early for next week's U.S. Open, preferring instead to travel to Austria for the BA-CA Open.

Recent knee surgery had some influence on his decision but the Irishman was also keen to return to the country where he recorded his maiden European Tour win 10 years ago. That was the last time the main tour was in Austria but it has returned this year at Fontana Golf Club in Oberwaltersdorf.

McGinley has fond memories of the country and despite not having made a cut on the European circuit in four events since March's TCL Classic in China he remains upbeat.

"It was a great tournament for me (in 1996)," McGinley said. "It was a dream to win my first tournament, shoot 62 and win by one. It is very good to see Austria back on the agenda again. It was a sad day when it left the European Tour."

Most of Europe's leading players are already in America ahead of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in New York, with McGinley's Ryder Cup teammates Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, David Howell and Thomas Levet playing in last week's PGA Memorial.

Padraig Harrington will defend his Barclays Classic title this weekend in a field which also contains Howell, Levet and Poulter as well as Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell.

McGinley was not tempted to join them.

"I could have played in America this week but felt with the way my knee is it was important to stay closer to home and play in a country that has been good to me in the past," McGinley said. "I just felt it was better preparation for me than going over to America on the back of my injury."

McGinley was operated on by the same surgeon who took care of Ernie Els when a water sports accident ruled him out for five months last year. The pair also share the same physiotherapist and McGinley said they had spoken about the injuries and subsequent recovery.

"Ernie is finding it takes a while to get confidence and very few people come straight back from surgery straight away," McGinley said.

Colin Montgomerie, a long-time supporter of golf in Austria and particularly at Fontana, is one of the four big players- Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez are the others - to stay in Europe.

The 42-year-old Scot returned to form last week with a fourth-place finish at the Celtic Manor Wales Open and hopes to continue that at a course he knows well.

"This course is all about second shots," Montgomerie said. "You can hit the fairways relatively easily but the second shots are all important and that's where I usually score well. I am looking forward to getting some iron shots close and bashing the putts in and seeing what happens."



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