McGinley not happy with seasonal date of World Cup

IRELAND’S Paul McGinley never wants golf’s World Cup to be held two weeks before Christmas again.

Five of the world's top 10 and nine of the top 25 are missing from the £3.5 million event starting in Mexico today and Ryder Cup hero McGinley, who partners Padraig Harrington, said: "I think it's an horrendous date.

"Guys want to have a break. The American tour starts up in Hawaii in the first week in January and I can understand guys not coming here.

"You look at somebody like Ernie (Els). He played in Sun City two weeks ago and he needs a break at some stage."This is a world event and it should be given precedence over invitational events. Look at how strong the field was in Japan last year because it was a great date."

The championship was held in mid-November and Els and Retief Goosen won for South Africa after a play-off which also featured Tiger Woods and David Duval for America, Michael Campbell and David Smail for New Zealand and Danes Thomas Bjorn and Soren Hansen.

Missing this week are Woods, Els and Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Price, Bernhard Langer, Robert Allenby and Darren Clarke.

Spain and Zimbabwe are not even taking part as a result of the withdrawals.

Harrington and McGinley have been partners every year since they won in America in 1997 and Harrington, conqueror of Woods on Sunday in one of the invitational events McGinley is referring to, said: "This needs a date that is going to attract."

Next year the event returns to Kiawah Island in South Carolina, the scene of McGinley and Harrington's victory five years ago as well as the 1991 Ryder Cup.

It is in mid-November again, but it falls between the US Tour's Tour Championship and the Presidents Cup match between America and the International side (Rest of the World minus Europe) in South Africa.

Justin Rose has one last chance to make his brother's start-of-season prediction come true in Mexico: "He kept telling me at the beginning of the year that I was going to win five tournaments and he said the fifth one was going to be a really big one.

He's no Nostradamus, but you never know. Maybe he had a little feeling and I may as well try and believe it."

The 22-year-old entered 2002 still searching for his first professional success, but when he won twice in South Africa, once in Japan and then claimed the British Masters at the start of June the prophecy looked to have every chance of becoming reality. However, the second half of the year has not matched the first and there was, of course, the death of his father, Ken, in September after a long battle with leukaemia.

However, with Paul Casey a late replacement for Nick Faldo as his partner this week, Rose, making his World Cup debut, now tries again for that "really big" fifth win: "I've had a couple of chances (most notably the NEC world championship in Seattle in August, where he eventually finished fifth), but maybe it could be a bit of a last-ditch effort.

"It would be lovely, a great way to finish off the year."

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