In-form McGinley seeking desert improvement

RYDER CUP team-mates Paul McGinley and Luke Donald are looking forward to kicking off the second event of the Middle Eastern desert swing at this week’s Qatar Masters after enjoying successful starts to the year in Abu Dhabi.

At last week’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship McGinley collected his first top-10 finish since the 2006 Mallorca Classic as the Irishman finished in a tie for ninth place alongside Ian Poulter at eight under par.

Prior to Christmas, in his first event of the 2008 European Tour season, McGinley finished tied for 50th at the Hong Kong Open, but only dropped three strokes around the Abu Dhabi Golf Club course and recorded a bogey-free third-round 66, six under par.

“I am just looking to continue this week. It was a good performance last week and I am looking for that to continue. I led the greens in regulation last week but I didn’t putt very well. If I play as well as I played last week and putt better I will have a good week,” McGinley said.

“I need to improve my putting. Anybody who wins a tournament or contends putts well and I have always done so in the past when I have played well. There is only so much you can do by hitting the ball well, you have got to convert your chances and that is what I am looking to do this week. I created some birdie chances last week and failed to convert some. I did not putt well and that often happens when you hit so many greens.”

Donald finished a shot further back at seven under par to just miss out in a tie for 11th.

But he did record his highest finish on the European Tour since securing a tie for fourth at July’s Scottish Open.

“The course is playing fine. Today was a completely different wind to yesterday, some holes were a lot longer and some were a little bit shorter, but I think the wind is going to switch around tomorrow,” said the world number 18.

“It’s a course where if you play well there is a chance to make birdies. There is not too much rough so there is not a premium on hitting it in the fairway but you will still have to make birdies.

“I was very happy with the way that I played last week, very consistent and I didn’t make many mistakes.

“I also hit a lot of greens and fairways, but I didn’t make enough birdies.

“I limited my mistakes and there were a lot of positives.”

Despite the withdrawal of champion Retief Goosen due to an eye complaint, Donald and McGinley will tee off alongside another eight of the world’s top 25 players at the Doha Golf Club tomorrow.

Australian world number eight Adam Scott is the highest-ranked player competing this week, while Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Niclas Fasth, Paul Casey and Scott Verplank are all expected to be challenging.

Westwood and Stenson will be looking to build on last week’s second-place finishes behind German youngster Martin Kaymer, who has also made the short trip to Doha.

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