Paul McGinley, who might well be back at Celtic Manor next year as a Ryder Cup vice-captain under Colin Montgomerie, went from the ridiculous to the sublime at the start of the Wales Open today.
After a triple bogey seven on his second hole of the £1.8m (€2m) tournament, the 42-year-old Dubliner then had three birdies and an eagle to leap to two under par.
It put McGinley, winner of the title eight years ago, only one behind Scot Jason McCreadie, winner of last year’s Scottish PGA title on the Tartan Tour, England’s Stuart Davis, Australian left-hander Richard Green and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti.
In the first group to tee off at 7.25am the 38-year-old McCreadie, who has made seven attempts to win a European Tour card without success, dropped a shot at the long second, but hit back with birdies on the fifth, eighth, ninth, 12th and 13th.
He led on his own at that point, but bogeyed the 485-yard par four 14th.
France’s Christian Cevaer appeared to be suffering a reaction to his European Open victory on Sunday, slumping to five over after nine holes.
And also struggling was Irish Open champion Shane Lowry, who on his professional debut last week missed the cut at the London Club.
There was nothing like the same attention this week on only the third amateur to win a European Tour event, but with seven holes to play he was down on four over.
Ryder Cup captains Montgomerie and Corey Pavin, the main attractions in a tournament featuring only three of the world’s top 50 and only Miguel Angel Jimenez from last year’s Ryder Cup side, were among the later starters.
Jimenez, who last year played 11 holes in a woeful eight over before pulling out with a knee injury, was going much better on his return and by pitching in for an eagle at the long second – his 10th – he moved alongside McGinley.
Montgomerie hinted yesterday McGinley and Thomas Bjorn would be part of his backroom team after asking them to be opposing captains this September when Continental Europe take on Britain and Ireland for the Vivendi Trophy – what used to be called the Seve Trophy.
McGinley, of course, was originally an assistant to Nick Faldo for last year’s match, but stood down because he wanted to concentrate on his playing career.
With Jose Maria Olazabal expected to be Europe’s next captain McGinley, match-winning hero at The Belfry in 2002, could well take charge for the 2014 match at Gleneagles, with Bjorn then following in America two years’ later.