Friday, May 23, 2008

VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) — Paul McGinley boosted his chances of a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup appearance Thursday with a 7-under 65 in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship.

The 41-year-old McGinley played a near-flawless round with birdies at each of the four par-5s for a one-shot lead over Robert Karlsson. Marcus Fraser was another shot back in third at the 7,320-yard West Course, which was hard and bouncy after a recent dry spell.

Charl Schwartzel, Daniek Vancsik and Garry Houston shot 4-under 68s.

McGinley said his round was his best since an opening-round 67 at last year's British Open.

"I struggled most of this year with poor or medium first rounds," he said. "But it's a long way from leading now to winning on Sunday night. The Ryder Cup is not on the horizon. It's in the future. I have got to have a heck of a summer to make it."

McGinley, currently 32nd on the European points list and well out of the top 5 that qualify, has played on the last three European teams and had accepted an offer from Nick Faldo to be a vice-captain on this year's team. He then backed out, saying he'd like to qualify as a player.

"I'm not ready to be a back room staffer," he said. "I don't feel I'm ready for that role yet. In the future I hope I'll get to do those things."

Many players had trouble in the dry conditions - a departure from the soggy course of recent years. Karlsson, however, liked it just fine.

"I putted really well, very well and I kept the ball in play," he said. "Whenever I had a bit of a problem I tried to play sensibly."

Ernie Els is looking for his first win at this event after seven World Match Play titles on the same course, but struggled to a 3-over 75. Darren Clarke and defending champion Anders Hansen also shot 75s, Justin Rose shot 76 and Lee Westwood 77.

Four players - David Howell, Graeme McDowell, Nick Dougherty and Miguel-Angel Jimenez - were tied at 70. Paul Casey shot 71 after a double-bogey seven on the long 17th.

Three-time champion Colin Montgomerie double-bogeyed the short second hole and bogeyed the third, before battling back for a 73, and U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera opened with five successive bogeys before rallying to shoot 73.

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN