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July 19, 2007

Paul McGinley


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Paul McGinley, 67. Paul, leading The Open Championship. How does that feel at this stage on day one, Paul?
PAUL McGINLEY: It obviously feels wonderful to be leading a major championship halfway through the first round. I'm very pleased because my golf hasn't been great the last -- for most of this year. I've been making a lot of cuts but not performing with a lot of quality. The thing that pleased me most was I played with quality today, and it's a pretty good tournament to do it in.

Q. After all that's gone on in your career the past 14 months or so, how do you explain suddenly leading The Open Championship?
PAUL McGINLEY: I wish I knew. It's a best kept secret. I don't know. I found the swing key on the golf course this morning, there's no doubt about that. On the practise ground, rather. Something that I worked on before in my swing which sort of clicked into place. I was able to go with it and got a great start, obviously, great momentum. When you birdie the first two holes of a British Open, it's a great buzz.
I was able to kick on from there. So that was part of it. I've spoke a lot, played with Padraig this week, he helped me out a lot this week, so all credit to him. My attitude was really good. When I got that start, I was able to go with it. I didn't play too aggressively, played clever, played smart and let my opportunities happen.
That's really it. Other than that, I don't know what is it secret. I did hole some putts great. You've got to putt well in a major championship, and I did putt well today. But I kept the ball in play. I think I drove it in one bunker on the 6th. Other than that, I pretty much kept the ball in play. And again, in a major championship that's what you need to do, and take advantage of your scoring opportunities, which I did, also. As I said, I putted really well.

Q. I believe you worked with Bob Rotella this week. What did you work on that had such an amazing impact?
PAUL McGINLEY: I spent an hour with him yesterday, which is the first time I've met him -- I've met him before, but it was Padraig who put him on to me, as I say. I played with Padraig this week, and he's been on the phone talking to me. I spent an hour with him.
Did he tell me something I didn't already know? Not really, no. But he sort of reinforced what I did when I play well. So I think that -- as I said, when I got the good start today and I started hitting the ball well, I was able to kick on because I know what to do when things are going right, you've got to go -- you've got to know what to do and fortunately I did. Things were going for me, the ball was rolling for me. I was able to see my shots and play my shots. I basically stayed out of my way and not try too hard and be too aggressive. All those things sort of kicked into place.

Q. Could you just explain what the key was you discovered on the practise round?
PAUL McGINLEY: Just rotation in my swing. I'm not a big, tall guy, I don't swing the club very upright. I swing the club around myself. I just found a bit of rotation in my swing and clubhead feel, which was something I haven't really had. Today I played a lot of ball control, and that's something I haven't been doing and it felt really good to play with the ball under control, to be honest, because I haven't had that. I've been hitting a few wild shots and that's what's been getting me in trouble.

Q. What advice has Padraig been giving you this week?
PAUL McGINLEY: Just the general stuff. My achilles heel has always trying too hard, pushing too hard, playing too aggressively, just patience. I'm not -- I wouldn't say it's one of my great traits. When I'm playing well it is a great trait. When I'm not playing well, I sort of push too hard. It's along those lines, and about the game, how a score evolves and that kind of stuff. He's great at that. One of the best in the world at that, everybody knows that.

Q. How frustrating has it been for you after the great finish you had in 2005 and you were looking to kick on, and your World Ranking has gone the other way?
PAUL McGINLEY: It's been hugely disappointing, I can't tell you how much. It's really hit me hard. It's been horrible to be up there to the top 20 in the world, and to plummet as quickly as I have done. It has been a plummet. I've made 90 percent of the cuts. But making putts doesn't do you any good in terms of ranking or Order of Merit position. It's about the big finishes.
Big finishes are about what this game is all about. You can make cuts and finish 15th, 20th or 30th, but you're going to slowly slide down the World Rankings. It's not like I gone way off the planet and missed every cut. But I've played a lot of mediocre golf, and that's what's hurt me. I haven't had the big weeks in the last 18 months that I did have before. Everybody lives for big weeks of three or four weeks when things go right. I haven't had any of those. That's what's hurt me most.
It hasn't been that my game has completely fallen apart, it's that I've missed having those three or four big weeks a season, which obviously propel you way up the Order of Merit and give you a huge amount of World Ranking points.

Q. Do you feel it's time for a big weekend here?
PAUL McGINLEY: I'm going to -- yes, I've had a great start, but it's three big days to go, and this golf course is so difficult and relentless. There's a long, long way to go. A long, long way to go. Yes, I've had a great start. But we're not even at the end of the front nine yet.

Q. Did the weather help, hurt or make no difference?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, it helped insofar as it didn't blow 30 mile an hour. Imagine that finish with a 30 mile-an-hour wind. Yeah, I think the big thing about the golf course this week is it's playing soft. I came up short of quite a few greens expecting the ball to bounce on, and it didn't do so. The bite in the golf course is gone, from the heavy rain that we've had over the last few weeks.
So the ball -- it's the really playing bouncy and linksy the way that obviously Hoylake was last year. So as a result it's playing long. It's a long golf course. As I say, that finish, even in benign conditions, that finish is a really, really tough finish. Once you turn there, 15, 16, 17 and 18, particularly in that wind, when the wind is blowing into you, 15, 16 and 18.
I mean, 18 is such a difficult hole there. I've hit a real good drive, as well as I can hit it, and I've got 240 to the pin, I've got out-of-bounds left, and big bunker on the right. It's not an easy hole. It's a very, very difficult hole. Anybody who makes par down there to win The Open will have deserved it.

Q. You said, I think it was recently, that you haven't got the strength in your game to take on the long courses. Here you've got 7,431 yards playing long. Does that give you even more satisfaction to get around there today?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I mean there's more than one way to skin a cat. And obviously I can't overpower a golf course. But what I can do is have good ball control and course management and putt well. And those three things I did today.
That's the only way I'm going to contend on a big golf course. They're the things that I have to do well. I did today, hence I'm leading on a golf course that's as long as it is.

Q. Two questions, one serious, one not so serious. Can you tell us how despondent you became over the last five months or so? Did you get to the stage you thought you'd never be in the media center again, for example?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I mean -- yeah, of course. When you're -- when you're not playing the way you know -- the best way to answer that question is that quote that Tom Weiskopf used, and I've never forgotten it, he said when he was playing well, he could never understand how he ever played badly, and when he was playing badly, he could never understand how he played well. That sums it up.
When I was playing -- that mediocrity golf, as I call it, I thought, Christ, when am I ever going to play well again? I wasn't even doing it in practise rounds; that was frustrating. If I was doing it in practise rounds and pro-ams and shooting 66 and 67's that would be different, but I haven't been playing. I didn't have the ball control.
As I say, I need ball control. I'm not somebody that can overpower a golf course. I had that today, and that pleased me the most today, not the fact that I'm leading The Open or anything, but the fact that I was in control of what I'm doing. When you're in control of what you're doing, it's a lot of fun.
It's a lot of fun getting a big cheer from the crowd, and the cheers were getting louder and louder as I went on. It was fun. It's a long time since I had that, since the Ryder Cup, and I'm playing with J.J. Henry again today.

Q. The second question, as I say, is not so serious. It's the 19th of July, midsummer, and you're wearing a heavy pair of gloves.
PAUL McGINLEY: I've got those tea bags in my pockets, too. You probably noticed me, I can't play golf when my hands are cold. I've got two sweaters on today and, yeah, I've had the mittens on. The one thing I don't want to do is get my hands cold because I lose the feel in my hands. I'm very much a feel player, hence the mittens. Even if it's moderately cold I'll have the mittens on. They're something that stays in the bag and never comes out.

Q. What are your main memories of Lytham in '96? Obviously you didn't have the Ryder Cup experiences to fall back on then.
PAUL McGINLEY: The main -- yeah, obviously playing with Tom Lehman, the third round he shot 64. It was just a circus. It was something I hadn't been used to or seen before. I remember photographers, 20, 30, 40 photographers around the greens and around just off the tee box, and every time somebody hit a shot there was a massive -- there was a click, click, click. It was just the magnitude of what I was doing and where I was.
Yeah, of course I was over-awed by the whole thing, no doubt about that. It was a big, big, big learning curve. Big, big learning experience. But I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it. When I came out the other side, it was well.
That's what it's all about. That's about what the top level of the game is all about. To see Tom Lehman shoot the score he did and the way he played, it was nice sunshine, great crowds, on TV. It was the first time I was really propelled on to the world stage, and it was, as I say, a big learning curve, big learning curve.

Q. The Ryder Cups have been defining moments in your career, but have you lacked a little self-belief to take that on and compete and contend in a major?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, obviously I've lacked something because I've played a different level of golf in Ryder Cups than I have done in big events. Yes, I haven't done it enough. I don't know, what is the X factor, I don't know. As I say, go back to the saying again, when I'm playing well, I feel I'm as good as anybody, but when I'm playing bad, Christ, am I ever going to play well again.
For me, as I say, it's about ball control, playing well and being in control of what you're doing. That's the fun. That's the adrenaline rush. It's not about being in a situation -- it's about being in a situation and being in control of what you're doing. That's the big fun.

Q. Have you always believed you have a major in you? Has there been self-doubt?
PAUL McGINLEY: I haven't really thought about it, to be honest. I haven't really thought about it. I think winning a major and winning major tournaments, I think they evolve more than going out and winning them. I think you -- from my experience, it's a question of being in control of what you're doing, staying patient, not getting ahead of yourself, playing one shot at a time and sort of letting the situation evolve. Going out -- certainly my experience, going out trying to win has never worked for me. It's about making sure the process is right or doing what you're doing, hitting every shot, one shot at a time and letting the situation evolve so you do get in the situation then.

Q. You said that Bob Rotella reinforced some of the things you were doing well before, the old Paul McGinley. What were you reminded of and put in practise today?
PAUL McGINLEY: Just what I'm saying here about the process of going through the shots, playing one shot at a time, being patient about what you're doing, being obviously target-oriented, which is what we all seem to do when we're playing well. That kind of thing, that just -- the softness of competing as opposed to the aggressive way of competing, which I'm inclined to do, get in there and try too hard and push too hard. It works for me sometimes but over a long period of time I don't think it does.

Q. Have the hardest weeks recently have been those weeks where there's been a major championship on and you haven't been there?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, really hard. I don't watch them when I'm not in the midst. It's hard to watch. It's hard to watch when you're not in a major tournament and your peers and your contemporaries and the guys you play with and know really well are up there contending and playing. I didn't watch The Masters this year and didn't watch the U.S. Open either. That's me, personally.
I'm not a great watcher of golf, anyway. I watched the tennis final; I really enjoyed that.

Q. Sorry to be on a negative note, but was there a sense of great disappointment among the players on the eve of The Open this year --
PAUL McGINLEY: My caddie told me this morning about it. I haven't seen it or heard about what he said.

Q. He suggested that -- he thought at least ten players, if not many more, were using some kind of performance-enhancing drug.
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, I can honestly say, hand on heart, I don't know of anybody. I've never heard anybody talk about it. So maybe he knows something I don't know. Honestly, honestly, hand on heart, I don't know anybody who does or anybody who's ever talked about it.
In terms of drug testing, I'm a hundred percent for it. Bring it in. I have nothing to hide. I think most guys, nearly everybody that I know has nothing to hide, so why not bring it in and get it done and have it there and reiterate how clean our sport is. I don't know.
What can you do to improve golf? I don't know. You're asking the wrong guy about it. But in terms of drug testing, I'm a hundred percent for it.

Q. Does it surprise you that Gary Player would say such a thing? Retief Goosen has just suggested, what's he trying to do, damage the game of golf? That's what Retief perceived he was trying to do.
PAUL McGINLEY: He obviously knows something that nobody else knows, otherwise he wouldn't have said it. And maybe he should be asked what does he know, bring it out. I don't know, I mean, who am I to say if Gary Player is right or wrong. As I say, honestly, hand on heart, I don't know anybody who does or anybody who's ever talked about it.
There's one way of clearing up the situation, have the drug testing. Every other sport does it. Why doesn't golf have it? We can stand among other sports and say we're as clean as -- because we have this mandatory testing. As I say, I think we've nothing to hide, so bring it on.

Q. You are actually in a position, Paul, as a member of the tournament committee in Europe, to press for it. Are you pressing for it within committee?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, yeah. I think that will happen as a matter of time, yeah. It's a very complicated thing. For example, I have -- I have really bad hayfever, and the medication that the doctor gave to me I had to bring to the people who are doing the drug testing and they checked it on the computer. It's not just simply a case of a doctor gives you something. You've got to be very, very careful.
Obviously the problem would be somebody taking something like that, like an antihistamine and getting caught and getting their name down for being a drug user, when they're not really. But that's the perils of what we do. Professional sports people, a lot of other sports are not as clean as we are. We're a sport, so we probably suffer under a banner of sports. I'm very much in favour of it, and I think the European Tour are, too.
It's a matter of time. We're taking steps and moving along to get this drug testing in. I really don't think it's a big problem. Is it a big story today? It's a shame because I don't think it's a big story. I don't think there's anybody.
STEWART McDOUGALL: Thank you very much.

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