It’s been a great month or so for the 37-year-old Dubliner, who picked up $196,000 at Whistling Straits and is now 10th in the Cup pecking order.
He moves on to Akron, Ohio, for the NEC World Championship on Thursday with every chance of further improving his position. David Howell, Ian Poulter and Jeff Remesy, three of his strongest rivals for a place among the automatic top ten, miss out on that event which offers a minimum of $25,000 in prize money, although McGinley will be hoping for an awful lot more given his current form.
“I’m not jumping to any conclusions”, he said yesterday. “I’ve had a great week and made progress but at the end of the day, I’m still not on the team. It’s very much unfinished business. Playing with Jeff (Remesy) on Sunday lent a touch of matchplay to it and I liked that. I played Jeff before in the Dunhill Cup and he’s a real battler and he’ll be a credit to the team if he makes it. I’ve said this before and say it again now. There is huge talent in this team and it will be one of the best ever to come out of Europe.”
Nobody is more delighted for McGinley that he should now be in the automatic top ten who go to Oakland Hills next month than his friend and World Cup partner Pádraig Harrington who, however, looked on the situation more pragmatically than emotionally.
“Paul’s the guy in form, every week he’s up there”, Harrington pointed out. “Look at his last six or seven weeks, he’s there all the time. His presence would make more options for Bernhard and, yes, I like the idea of playing with him even if we lost our foursome together last time. He deserves to be picked. He is the guy in form, the guy with experience. What more can you ask for? The two things you ask of the picks are a guy who has experience of the Ryder Cup and the guy who’s playing well. Paul has both but I think he’ll qualify anyway.”
There is now every possibility that there will be three Irishmen in the European side for the second successive match and no credit can be too high for the way McGinley has battled through from a long way back.
“I am desperate to make the team”, he has said time and time again and in pursuit of that aim, he has played in 12 of the last 13 weeks and will follow up Akron with the decisive BMW International in Munich on Thursday week.
“I think Paul would be beneficial to the team”, said Darren Clarke. “We had a good fourball together at The Belfry although if he makes the team I imagine he’ll play with Pádraig.”
I wondered if there was something he already knew but Clarke enigmatically replied: “Because they won World Cups together.”
The truth, of course, is they won just one World Cup, 1997 at Kiawah Island, and that was long before the 2002 Ryder Cup matches!
1 Lee Westwood
2 Miguel Angel Jimenez
3 Darren Clarke
4 Pádraig Harrington
5 Thomas Levet
6 Paul Casey
7 David Howell
8 Ian Poulter
9 Paul McGinley
10 Jeff Remesy
1 Pádraig Harrington
2 Sergio Garcia
3 Darren Clarke
4 Miguel Angel Jimenez
5 Lee Westwood
6 Fredrik Jacobson
7 Thomas Levet
8 Paul Casey
9 Ian Poulter
10 Luke Donald
The top five from the world list will be joined by the leading five from the European list who haven't already made the side. So at present the automatic ten are Harrington, Garcia, Clarke, Jimenez, Westwood, Levet, Casey Howell, Poulter and McGinley.