Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Steady McIlroy’s in the Swiss mix

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy made a bright start at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland hitting an opening four-under-par 67 which left him five shots behind leader Brett Rumford.

McIlroy, looking to make-up for last year's play-off loss, birdied his first hole and then holed a 102-yard wedge second shot for an eagle two at the next but he then stalled with 11 straight pars to end with a four-under par 67.

Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke are well placed after respective rounds of 68 and 69.

Paul McGinley is distancing himself from talk about the Race to Dubai title and the make-up of next year's European Ryder Cup team — his only concern is to continue repeating the form he displayed on the opening day.

McGinley has not competed on the Crans-sur-Sierre course since missing the halfway cut in the 1994 tournament.

He certainly made up for a 15-year absence with seven birdies, including three in succession from his 15th hole in an eventual round of a five under par 66. McGinley trails four strokes behind Australian Rumford who felled a woman spectator with his opening drive and then recovered from being two-over par after five holes to card a nine-under par 62.

England's Simon Dyson, winner of last fortnight's KLM Open, is already well-placed at eight under while six players — Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, Argentina's Anders Romero, England's Danny Willet and the Swedish duo of Alexander Noren and Christian Nilsson — are on six under.

McGinley spent days earlier this week working with coach, Bob Torrance, and he travelled up into the Alps very happy to reap the benefits.

He was then asked if he was excited about the start of the 2010 Ryder Cup qualifying process, and whether he thought his name was on Colin Montgomerie's 'Dream 12' list of likely Celtic Manor members.

“No, I don't think I'm on Monty's list though the Paul McGinley who played well today could very well make the side,” he said. “But then the Paul McGinley who has been playing this year is not on that list.

“Though if the golf I've played today is the quality of golf I am going to play through the selection campaign then I am going to be close to making the team. It's a long time since I have played this good. I might have had some good scores but they were normally down to good putting rounds.”

He indicated he had no real explanation for his long Swiss absence.

“I just forgot how beautiful it is up here. It's absolutely stunning, and the whole place is just invigorating,” he said.