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March 14, 2008

Paul McGinley


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Paul, welcome. Another good round today, good start. Must feel good to be on top of the leaderboard.
PAUL McGINLEY: Thank you, yeah, that's what it is. It's a good start. Obviously breezy. It felt like Spain or Portugal early season more so out there than Korea.
It's a good start, yeah. It's a good start. I've made one bogey in two days, and I played decently, though I feel like I'm playing better and I've putted decently, although I feel like I'm putting better, too. I think I'm going to have to improve a bit on both over the weekend if I'm going to win.
But it's a great start and good position. I'm pleased, obviously.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: If you could maybe go through the run of four birdies in a row.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I had a lot of chances today. I hit 17 greens and missed one green by two inches. So really 17 chances for birdies and I didn't make any really -- my first two birdies starting on 10, my first one was a par 5, driver, 7-iron, shows you how strong the wind was, and to 20 feet, two putts.
Then my next birdie didn't come until what's that, the 4th hole? So what's that, 13 holes, 13 chances and I didn't make them.
Then I hit a big drive, 7-iron on to the green. And it's unique for me to be able to get all the par 5s in two, bar 9 today. That's unusual, and it makes the course a lot easier when you can get to all the par 5s in two when they are in range for you. Now I know how Tiger feels every round.
Then I had a good run after that. I holed a few putts after that. I hit a 4-iron to eight feet on the next and holed it.
The next one I hit a 6-iron to 25 feet, holed it.
Same on the next. I hit a 7-iron probably 30 feet and holed it. So they were two nice bonuses.
Then 8 and 9 played into the wind and didn't have chances for birdies.

Q. You talk about yourself as if you're not that long, but you're long enough for today, aren't you, and what is your length compared to when you were at your absolute peak?
PAUL McGINLEY: I don't know what my driving distance is. You can look it up and compare it over the last few years. I'm around 285 I think, which leaves -- you know, you hit 285 off the tee, most par 5s, you can't come home in two. You've got to be hitting over 300. Unless it's downwind and firm fairways, I can't get home in two.
It's a hell of an advantage, I have to tell you, to be able to hit the par 5s, hell of an advantage.

Q. What percentage can you do it?
PAUL McGINLEY: I mean, there's no question there's a big correlation between the best in the world and the biggest hitters, no question. Just look at the Order of Merit, just look all the way right down, it's one after the other.
But having said that, in order for me to compete with that, my wedge play has got to be fantastic and my wedge play has not been fantastic and that's why I have not been making enough birdies on the par 5s, and that's part of my game I need to work on.
There's more than one way to skin a cat but it's certainly a lot easier when you get home on the par 5s. Even if you can't get home and you can get within five yards of the green or into a green-side bunker, it's a lot easier getting up-and-down from there. The percentages are a lot better from getting up-and-down from there than 80 or 90 yards.

Q. Listening to how you talk about your round, it sounds like a calm, sunny day but it's quite windy out there. How did it affect you?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, obviously conditions were tough. I kind of like windy conditions. My record over the years in windy conditions has always been quite decent. And you know, as I said, the golf course, although it was windy, it was yielding chances for birdies. Those two or three par 4s, we could get within 50, 60 yards of the green and the four par 5s, three of them were on in two. So as I say, there is birdie opportunities still.
Tee shot down my first hole, the 10th hole, my first hole, 340 yards, and that was pitching in the rough. If I had pitched in the fairway, it would have been another 20 yards, so that tells you how strong it was. Yet you turn into the wind, hitting a 6-iron 145 yards, which is normally a 9-iron yardage. That's what happens when you're playing in the wind.

Q. How did it play in the first round?
PAUL McGINLEY: In the practise rounds I was still hitting in two. I played in the practise round in the morning and hit driver, 5-wood on the green. Today it was a smooth 7-iron, maybe an 8, but 5-wood in practise.

Q. 13 missed chances and four birdies, does that affect your confidence?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I mean, they were missed chances, but I hit a lot of good putts on that front nine without going in.
You know, and then I holed a few in a row on the back nine, so it's funny, it's like waiting for buses; sometimes they come, and sometimes no matter what you do, it won't come together.
Front nine I hit a lot of really good putts, a lot of really good putts without a lot of reward. I feel I've putted well over the last two days without putting lights out. I had 30 putts yesterday, 31 today, which is good putting, but it can be better. As I say, I need to putt better and play a bit better over the weekend. I feel there's more in me than what I've done over the last two days and I feel I need to play quite a bit better over the weekend.

Q. If you compare this to being more like Europe than Korea, how is it adjusting to courses like in Malaysia and India, grainy greens, and then coming up here?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, of course it's a problem, and it's difficult, you know, going from such grain. India was the strongest grain I've played on out in Asia, two weeks ago, three weeks ago now, and we had grain last week, as well, but it was easier to see.
In India you could have three or four different types of grain in three or four feet, which I've never found before in Asia. Maybe one or two, but not three or in our four, yet the scoring is still sensational. I think proves a couple of things, that, A, the standard of the Asian Tour is getting higher and higher and more comfortable putting on though greens.
But I think it also proves that Europeans are becoming more accustomed to grainy greens and they are becoming better educated as golfers. It can only help you if you are able to putt on grainy greens as well as on pure greens that we do play on in the middle of summer.
So I think the fact that The European Tour has us play in such varying conditions certainly helps make for a better player. And I think our tour is extremely strong now, even in depth. We never used to be that strong in depth, but good luck to anybody; if I had to pick a Ryder Cup Team this year because if there's any ten out of 40 guys could make it, and we could not say that even three or four years ago. I think that shows you how much strength and depth we have now on the Tour.

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