McGinley's faith in old-fashioned skills reaps early reward

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The Independent Online

Golf has never had anything quite as crude as a civil war, just the very occasional "'gentleman's disagreement", but The Plotters versus The Bombers will doubtless be a bloody division that will some day take a significant chapter in this game's history.

As an avowed member of the former, Paul McGinley does not go in for big blows - hates the damn things - but he struck one anyway yesterday with a 64 that gave him the early halfway lead here at the PGA Championship and allowed the Dubliner to put forward the case for The Plotters. "I played today the way it should be played - with course management," he said after six birdies and an eagle gave him a chance to equal the course record before scraping the hole with an eight-footer at the last. "And that to me should be the future of golf."

Some hope, the 5ft 7in, 11-stoner conceded, as courses continue to get longer and longer and The Bombers stronger and stronger what with technology and strenuous physical regimes accentuating their power. "Too many times they are getting an advantage," ventured the 38-year-old. "Look at what they've done at this year's Open at St Andrews. I'm very disappointed - they've changed the home of golf." By an extra 140 yards, in fact. "They didn't need to," bristled McGinley. "Putting an extra 40 yards on the 14th just rewards the big-hitters, because those bunkers on the left are now in play for 90 per cent of the field. But Tiger [Woods] can just blow it over them. I mean that's not the future of golf is it?"

Not to McGinley, anyway. He believes there is another route to take. "Tough pin positions, just as we have here," he said, before emphasising the need for the European Tour to act on Wentworth's example. "If the Europeans are going to compete in majors we want to be playing courses that are similar and Wentworth certainly is - the greens are firm and pins tucked in. Course management, strategy, good shot-making - they should be brought back as opposed to rewarding brute power."

As the player who recorded the longest-drive on the European Tour last year, Padraig Harrington might not necessarily agree, although the world No 10 will obviously not be saying as much at the McGinley breakfast table in nearby Sunningdale this morning, where he and his wife, Caroline, are staying for this "flagship" event.

An indication of the depth of the kinship between these World Cup-winning partners is the "Harrington Room" in McGinley's house. Nevertheless, should it come down to a head-to-head tomorrow friendship, and indeed any discounted rent, will soon be forgotten. "I wish him all the best, but at the end I'd be trying to beat him just as much as anybody," said Harrington after a five-birdie, one-bogey 68 took him to six under.

As the pack bunched, Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter moved into the picture on four under, as did Ernie Els on two under, while Colin Montgomerie was simply glad to be still on the margins on the canvas as he scraped inside the cut at level par with two birdies in the last three holes.

BMW Open (Wentworth) Leading early second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 136 P McGinley 72 64. 138 P Harrington 70 68; P Hanson (Swe) 69 69. 139 M Campbell (NZ) 71 68; P Lonard (Aus) 69 70; Ben Curtis (US) 68 71; L Slattery 70 69. 140 M Olander (Swe) 68 72; R-J Derksen (Neth) 71 69; P Broadhurst 70 70; I Poulter 71 69; R Goosen (RSA) 70 70; D Clarke 71 69; J-F Lima (Por) 67 73; J Lomas 72 68; D McGrane 69 71; Robert Coles 69 71. 141 R Green (Aus) 71 70; J M Olazabal (Spa) 72 69; K Ferrie 72 69; Steven O'Hara 69 72; A Forsyth 69 72; N Faldo 70 71. 142 P Sjoland (Swe) 72 70; S Drummond 71 71; David Howell 70 72; Gary Murphy 74 68; P Lawrie 67 75; E Els (RSA) 73 69; T Bjorn (Den) 71 71. 143 Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70 73; Graeme McDowell 67 76; Stephen Dodd 69 74; Steve Webster 71 72; Pierre Fulke (Swe) 74 69; Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 75 68; Rolf Muntz (Ned) 74 69; Simon Dyson 70 73; Bradley Dredge 75 68; Lee Westwood 72 71; Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 70 73; Luke Donald 71 72.

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