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May 17, 2007

Paul McGinley


RODDY WILLIAMS: Thank you very much for coming in and joining us, a mixed day, five birdies and five bogeys, but overall you're pretty satisfied with the score.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I'm very pleased with the score. 72 is a very good score in those conditions. Five birdies was great, putted well, holed some nice 25-footers for birdies.
The bogeys, didn't hit the ball particularly well all day. You know, I missed some fairways and a few going right off the tee and you get into that rough and you can barely move 120, 130 yards which is not going to get me on the greens, and they were my bogeys, really, driving in the rough. The five bogeys were all from driving in the rough.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Can you give us a flavour of how tough the rough is? You touched on it there, but how difficult is this course playing?
PAUL McGINLEY: It's obvious you have almost a 7,500-yard long golf course which is a long golf course and then you put on top of that the fact that it's wet, and so the ball not rolling. And then you put the fact that you have U.S. Open-style rough and not only that, but it's wet U.S. Open-style rough, and then you have the atmosphere because it's not particularly warm like we have in major conditions in America. The ball is not flying the in the way air the way it would in the hot conditions, and you put the wind in there, all of those factors make it difficult.

Q. Is it too difficult for an Irish Open?
PAUL McGINLEY: There's two arguments, Charlie. There's one argument that I saying that the fans will come down here to see birdies and see like in the J.P. McManus Pro-Am and the scoring is good and Padraig is shooting 63 and things are going great. That's that argument that that's what players want; the players want to see shots and players making eagles and birdies.
And then you have the second argument to say, well, you know, we've won the Ryder Cup the last couple of years, we have good players here and not winning major championships and why is that. We very rarely play a golf course that's set up like a U.S. major, a PGA or U.S. Open.
I think a lot of the reason for us not winning major championships is we don't play golf courses that are difficult enough. There's that argument as well, too. It's a very, very valid argument, as well, too. That's the way it is, there's two arguments.
Now, should it be for an Irish Open? I really don't know. I really don't know. It very, very difficult. Is it fun to play? Not really. It's extremely penalising. Is it fun to watch? Probably not. Maybe it is; some people might like seeing us hacking it out of the rough. But in terms of preparation for major championships it's spot-on. That's what we need to do if we need to prepare ourselves for playing tough golf courses when we go to America. It is an eye-opener when you play a European Tour event and you go over to the U.S. Open and you go to the rough and it's a penalty shot and you hit into it; it's a big eye-opener. I think if you prepare for it better, there's a better chance that you'll conquer it when you get there.

Q. How does a 72 feel in terms of a 65 on another day?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to say, 65, but yeah, there's -- I got a lot of pleasure out of battling, and that was a battle. And it's great to be on the other side and say, yeah, I had a good day today. But I've got three days ahead which are going to be very tough.
I don't think level par is going to be bad in terms of winning the tournament. I have three days to go. It was a battle, but in a way I quite enjoyed it. To be honest, would I prefer to have a tournament where 22-, 23- or 24-under wins like in Germany, or a tournament where level par is winning; me personally, I prefer level par.
Having said that, so it goes on record here, I have nothing to do with setting up the golf course here and particularly the tee boxes. I have nothing to do with it, and it was mentioned on over a pint a few years ago and guys have gone and put in a tree on a green that's built for a 9-iron, so just want to put that on record for all you guys.

Q. What did you hit there?
PAUL McGINLEY: I hit a 4-iron, a drive and I hit a really good 4-iron. The green is so slopey, I pitched it just short of the pin on the down slope and it shot to the back of the green and had a difficult chip and putted from the fringe but fortunately holed it. The green is not designed for a 4-iron, that's the problem. When I mentioned putting the tee back a few yards on that hole when we played the U.S. Irish PGA here four or five years ago, what was happening was -- the big hitters were smashing it over the bunkers. In fact, I was hitting 3-wood to keep it -- because the bottleneck was so tight where the two bunkers converged, so I said another 20, 30 yards on that and the big hitters cannot smash is over the bunker but a few yards turned into 64 yards. I don't know where that's come from --

Q. Probably from the pint.
PAUL McGINLEY: Good point. That's probably the mistake.

Q. Given the problems the Irish Open have had with the weather, do you think the set up might make a few guys not come back again?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I'm worried about that, yeah. I'm worried about that. I'm worried about the European Open. We haven't been blessed at all with good weather in Ireland. The three tournaments we had last year were not alone bad weather, they were horrendous weather. And if the forecast is right this week, it to the going to be too kind to us either, and that is a worry.
I'm an Irishman; I'm proud of my Irish tournaments, and we've got wonderful venues and a lot of effort goes into it. It is a bit of a worry. It is a bit of a worry. I've talked up this place to a lot of players coming here this week, and I think a lot of them will be disappointed with how tough the golf course is and how, you know, conditions haven't been that favourable. So that is a worry, yeah.

Q. Do you know any --
PAUL McGINLEY: I don't know any, no, but it doesn't take much for a professional golfer to moan.

Q. Do you know any who didn't come this year because of last year?
PAUL McGINLEY: No, but it's just -- it just bad luck. I mean, three tournaments last year, and as I say, three horrific weeks of weather and three great course setups, too. The course is in good condition each time, and the people here who are putting on the show do a wonderful job preparing for it. And then they get dogged with bad luck for weather and that's disappointing. There's a lot of effort gone into the setup of it golf course, and we all know what the weather has been like the last few months and now the weather's turned the one week the golfers want to have it good.

Q. Taking conditions into account, where does this course remind you?
PAUL McGINLEY: On The European Tour? Yeah, it reminds me of Bethpage and everybody know what is Bethpage was like, because it's not long; it's the brutal rough like you have in the U.S. Open. But it's extremely long and Bethpage was up there 7,400 or 7,500 yards long. Now normally U.S. Opens are played par-70 and 7,200 yards or 7,100 yards, but Bethpage was up to 74 I think and I think we've got the same here, around 75.

Q. They did shorten it by over 200 yards?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, you -- pardon? 7,200? I doubt that. I doubt that. It's up ten yards on every tee box. The tee boxes are 15 yards long and we're within five yards of the front. So the back tees are measured from the posts, so maybe seven or eight yards on most holes. You can only cut about 300 off of it; 249, and it's playing every inch 249. 249 doesn't play 249 because of the atmosphere and the ball is zipping through the air in the hot weather. We don't have that here. When the clouds are low and the humidity is there with the pressure on top of you, the ball doesn't zip through it like it does on a bright, sunny day. So that makes it play even longer.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Can you run through the details?
PAUL McGINLEY: My birdies saved the day for me really. Started on 10. 11, I hit a 5-iron to 20 feet. Then I missed the fairway on 14 and 15. Hacked it out both times and made bogey.
15, holed about a 15-footer from behind the pin.
18, I holed a 7-footer. I hit a drive and a 4-iron and an 8-iron and a 7-footer.
Then 2, I holed about a 30-footer, 5-iron, 30 feet, and 4, I holed about a 20-footer pin-high left with a 7-iron. My bogeys -- my birdies.

Q. There were nine birdies and one eagle in the group but you were six over as a group, does that sum it up?
PAUL McGINLEY: It does, yeah. You know, the golf course is difficult. Like I'm saying, it's extremely difficult when it up there with the U.S. Open but there's still birdie putts. There's probably more birdie opportunities than you would have a in a U.S. Open and there are birdie opportunities fortunately to be able to save the day, which I did today. I took advantage of them. I think you need to make some birdies this week because you are going to make some bogeys, even if you hit it on the fairway.
Obviously the par 5s, Thomas made an eagle on 7, two super shots in there driving the 3-wood, was a great shot but he took an iron, got on in two. There's a couple of par 4s, 440 yards long, and we can hit it up there 280 or 290. If we go get it on the fairway, we can hit an 8-iron or 9-iron in so those are birdie opportunities for us. Par 5s are big opportunities for professional golfers, but the big key is to hit the fairways.

Q. inaudible
PAUL McGINLEY: No, it's not. It's a 4-wood off the back tee. The back tee is 15 yards wide and 15 yards long and we're about five yards from the front of the tee box, so it's really only moved up ten yards. I mean, it's 480-odd yards.

Q. You have your name on the eighth?
PAUL McGINLEY: It's called the McGinley tee I didn't have anything to do with it. I'm going to blame the drink. Good point. Never discuss businees over a drink.

Q. Is that as good as you have played for a while?
PAUL McGINLEY: No, it wasn't no. It wasn't actually. I played a lot better this year and I've had good scores and played decent. My scoring average this year is extremely good. My Order of Merit position is extremely bad which is disappointing. I haven't put it together in four days. When I have put it together I feel like I have played quite decently. I finished 15th and 16th and that shows you the standard on Tour is great and the courses we play. A lot of the golf courses where I feel like I play really well on, like Qatar, 7,500 yards, I played very well there and I finished 15th and I played really good. I struggled to play a lot better than I did to be honest.

Q. You have a better chance as it is tight?
PAUL McGINLEY: It's horses for courses, it's always been. Professional golf has always been about that. Yeah, I mean, it's a big onus. There's not a big onus on a long way this week. The onus is hitting fairways which obviously suits me better than it would if it was a big, wide open golf course.
Having said that, I have nothing to do with the setup at all. I've discussed it with nobody and I know nothing about it and I didn't realise how bad the rough was until I got down here. (Laughter).

Q. Sounds like an election speech?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, it is a time of election, isn't it. I want to make that point for the fifth time.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Paul, thank you very much. I think we got the point and good luck tomorrow.

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