<
>

McGinley closer to Ryder Cup spot

NEWPORT, Wales -- Paul McGinley took a large step toward securing his first Ryder Cup place by winning a three-man playoff over Paul Lawrie and Daren Lee in the rain-delayed Wales Open on Sunday.

The tournament was reduced to 36 holes after persistent overnight rain left the Celtic Manor course unplayable. Officials had hoped to play round three Sunday and make it a 54-hole tournament, but the condition of the course made that impossible.

McGinley moved up to eighth on the European Ryder Cup table with just three weeks of qualifying events
remaining when he parred the fifth hole of the playoff.

"I feel very fulfilled that I've done what I set out to do. I haven't made it yet, but I'm 90 percent there. I've broken the back of it," McGinley said.

Lawrie and Lee were tied with McGinley at 6-under after the delayed second round finished Saturday night.

McGinley got up and down from a greenside bunker for par on the 208-yard 12th hole, which the trio played until the match was decided. He won when Lee made a bogey. Lawrie had been eliminated at the second hole of the playoff.

The top 10 on the Ryder Cup table automatically make the European team to challenge the American squad at The Belfry from Sept. 28-30.

McGinley heads Monday morning to Atlanta for the PGA Championship where a good finish would seal his Ryder Cup bid.

Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion was the first to be eliminated, three-putting from 35 feet on the second hole of the playoff.

"That was typical of the whole week. I played fantastic but putted as bad as you can putt," said Lawrie, who missed a 4-footer at the last hole Saturday which, as it turned out, would have given him victory. Lee's best chances to win came on the first and third holes, but he missed 10-foot birdie chances, lipping out at the third.

McGinley, whose victory was his third on the European Tour and his first since 1997, and Lee both bogeyed the hole on their third attempt and parred it on their fourth.

But Lee missed the green at his fifth try and chipped through it to the fringe on the other side. McGinley was bunkered but blasted out to one foot and holed for par, before Lee missed his putt from the fringe.