Garcia, who eventually lost out to McGinley’s close friend Pádraig Harrington in a memorable play-off, sounded off that he had been kept waiting for 15 minutes in the fairway.
“I was caught between Sergio in the game behind and Pádraig in the game ahead,” explained McGinley.
“There were tv crews, radio crews, officials everywhere. It was just unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was a big learning experience and took me by surprise to be honest. I played with Chris DiMarco and his caddie counted 52 people on the fairway. It was like a zoo. Sergio was giving out and he was probably right.
“You’ve got to remember, four times I stood on that 18th fairway and I am a quick player and four times I backed off my shot because of people on the fairway. I mean, there was a BBC buggy going straight up the middle of the fairway as I was standing over my tee shot.
“The other thing about it is that I stood on the 18th fairway and watched Pádraig hole his five foot putt. We weren’t out of position, we weren’t slow. That was the activity that was going on and it’s something the R & A need to address.”
McGinley and Garcia discussed the situation during last week’s Bridgestone WGC in Akron. The Spaniard expressed no hard feelings about what had happened, his feeling of being hard done by probably softened by the Irishman’s sincerely held view that he had a genuine grievance about the way things had been handled.
“He didn’t harbour a grudge, absolutely not,” said McGinley. “But I can understand his frustration and I do understand where he was coming from. I don’t know if it is the same in America because I have never been in one of the last groups in the majors here. But certainly in the British Open, 52 people inside the ropes is ridiculous, it’s out of order.”
As far as McGinley is concerned, it’s now all water under the Barry Burn bridge and he has moved on to the next tournament which he ardently hopes will further check his slide down a particularly slippery slope over the past year or so.
He likes what he has seen of Southern Hills although surprised at the number of doglegs and consequently how often he expects to play a two iron from the tee. Nor is he entirely sure that he has entirely grasped the exact pace of the putting surfaces.
“Your mind tells you that they are slow but you don’t seem to be able to hit it”, he mused.
“It is quite eerie, actually. It is obviously a super golf course, short by modern standards, a lot of two irons off the tee. I can’t remember that in America before,” he added.