McGinley thanks his 'putting angel'

Paul McGinley hopes his sparkling second-round 67 at the China Open here will prove a turning point in what he admits has been a troubled start to his 2009 season.

The Irishman thrust himself firmly into contention with a superb morning effort yesterday, ending the day three strokes adrift of leader Choi ho-Sung on three under after carding 74 in the first round.

McGinley's five-under-par score, the lowest round of the day, was largely down to fine work with his putter and, following the struggles of the afternoon groups, he is now well placed to mount a title challenge going into the weekend.

McGinley is optimistic he can now consign his recent woes on the greens to the past and start to produce more consistent results. "It's been a worrying start to the season, I've played decently but if I putted better I'd have played better," he said.

"I had a good start to last season, I was leading the green in regulations this time last year, even though I didn't have any big finishes before the Ballantine's [in South Korea] and my statistics were really good but this year they haven't been and it's been a worry.

"I've been working pretty hard. I've been afraid of missing greens because chipping to three and four feet has been a problem, my chipping's been quite good but my putting hasn't. The putter's made a big difference as I got a lot more aggressive with my iron shots which was great, my iron play got better as the day went on."

Having begun the day two over par, McGinley was more concerned about making the cut than troubling the leaderboard, but the Ryder Cup star is now looking ahead to the closing two rounds brimming with confidence.

"Walking off that course yesterday I felt dreadful with the putter, I didn't know how I was going to get round today," he said. "A putting angel must have come during the night because I felt great today and every putt I hit was great."

Starting on the 10th, McGinley blitzed his opening nine holes with five birdies to go out in 32 but slowed down after the turn as a bogey at the first was cancelled out by a birdie at the sixth.

McGinley has played in three winning Ryder Cup teams and victory in the Chinese capital in front of new captain Colin Montgomerie would prove a boost to his chances of playing at Celtic Manor next year even at this early stage.

"I think Colin Montgomerie will be an excellent captain and I'd love to have the opportunity to play under him," he said. "I've been on three Ryder Cup teams with him and I know he's going to be a great captain and I'd love to play another Ryder Cup, of course I would."

However, whether that dream becomes a reality depends on how McGinley's form and body hold up over the interim period, with the latter a particular cause for concern. "I have had four operations on my knees so they're a big worry," he stressed. "I can't train the way I want to at the moment and I think that's going to be the case for the rest of my career, and I'm going to have to be very careful with what I do."

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