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Paul McGinley aims to keep Ryder Cup berth

Irishman Paul McGinley, who holed the winning putt against the United States in the 2002 Ryder Cup, is under threat to retain his place in Europe's top 10 at the Dutch Open starting on Thursday.

If he does fail, Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam indicated on Wednesday that he would consider Irish players for a wild card for the match at the K Club, in Kildare.

McGinley has slipped further down the Cup table through a run of poor form and then an emergency knee operation in May so that he is now in the vulnerable 10th and last automatic place.

Fellow-Irishman Padraig Harrington, who is not playing in Zandvoort, is lying ninth and another compatriot Darren Clarke is taking a break from golf to care for his sick wife Heather.

Harrington and McGinley have to hold or improve their positions, with two big-money events to follow the Dutch Open.

They are next week's U.S. PGA championship and the following week's WGC Bridgestone Invitational, before the final event to count, the BMW International in Munich.

McGinley, who needed big efforts at the end of the 2002 and 2004 campaigns to get into Europe's team, said on Wednesday that he had been down this particular road before.

"It would be nice to make some headway this week," McGinley told Reuters. "But it's a situation I've faced before and come through.

"There are four weeks to go. All the experts were saying at the start of the campaign that 1.5 million points would make the team, which I'm virtually at.

"It's quite clear it's going to be much more. I've been saying all year this is the toughest European team to make.

"I'm going to have to play well and that is good for me. I know from past experience if you're going to strike form at any stage in the year, you want to do it now, going into a Ryder Cup.

"So it would be nice to play well over the next four weeks and cement my position."

McGinley said the knee surgery he needed in May had "cost a lot of momentum" but he refused to contemplate his wild-card chances if he does not quite make it this time.

"I've a job to do: make the top 10. The same thing cropped up last time. Everybody said I'd get a pick if I didn't make it, but I want my place on merit. I'm almost there."

Woosnam told reporters on Wednesday: "You would want Irish people in the team and if McGinley and Harrington dropped out but were next on the list, you would seriously be looking at them for picks."

Britain's Paul Broadhurst, who is aiming for a Ryder Cup comeback after a 15-year absence, is McGinley's immediate threat.

The Englishman holds 11th spot in the table and can overtake McGinley in the Netherlands even with second place.

If McGinley takes top spot, worth 266,660 Cup points, Woosnam thinks the Irishman will be included.

"He'll have to get up to 1.6 or something to ensure he's safe, so he needs about another 200,000 or so."

Woosnam also has his eye on Broadhurst, with whom he played in 1991 at Kiawah Island.

"He is one of my best friends and I might get criticised if I pick him, or if I leave him out, so it would be easier if he qualifies."

Eight-times European number one Colin Montgomerie makes his first appearance since missing the cut in the British Open.

August 10, 2006

 




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