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Ryder Cup duties take a back seat, McGinley tees off in Thailand

Paul McGinley of Ireland reacts near the Ryder Cup during a news conference after being named the European Ryder Cup captain at the St. Regi
Paul McGinley of Ireland reacts near the Ryder Cup during a news conference after being named the European Ryder Cup captain at the St. Regi

(Reuters) - Ireland's Paul McGinley will take a six-week break from his Ryder Cup captaincy duties and enjoy some playing time starting with OneAsia's season-opening Thailand Open in Bangkok on Thursday.

The 46-year-old, who will lead the European team for the biennial match against the United States next year, has found little time to work on his game since January when he was named as the unanimous choice for the prestigious post.

"I have played a little bit at home and practiced a bit in between all the meetings I have had the last four or five weeks," McGinley, Ireland's first skipper in the history of the Ryder Cup, said in a statement.

"I feel that my game is not too bad in terms of how I am hitting the ball, how I am chipping and putting. Now it is a question of competition and competition sharpens that.

"I am playing in America next week and then I have a few weeks off and then I play in China and Korea.

"I have got a good bit of golf coming up and the Ryder Cup stuff I am going to park for the next six weeks and I am going to be a golfer and I am looking forward to that."

McGinley, who has twice been a Ryder Cup vice-captain, is aware of the challenge that he will face to maintain a balance between his game and his duties in the lead-up to the 2014 match at Gleneagles, Scotland.

"It is a challenge, there is no doubt about that. I think history proves that being Ryder Cup captain always takes a toll on a captain's playing career," McGinley, who holed the winning putt in the 2002 match at The Belfry, said.

"I am aware of that history and all the stuff that goes on, but I would like to think I am going to be different and I am going to play well over the next two years. Certainly it is a good motivating factor for me."

Over the next four days, the Irishman will face stiff competition from defending champion Chris Wood, who also won the Qatar Masters in January, and countryman Padraig Harrington in the $1 million event in Thailand.

McGinley, who has won four European Tour titles, will keenly follow the exploits of Ryder Cup contenders Wood and Harrington.

"Chris Wood does not have to do much to impress me. He has won twice now in last six months," McGinley, who missed the cut in last year's event at Thana City Golf & Sports Club, said.

"I am not afraid to have rookies in the team and I would be very happy if some rookies make the team.

"If Chris makes the team I would be delighted to welcome him aboard. He will be a very good Ryder Cup player one day.

"Padraig and I have played a lot together over the years. We are from the same part of Dublin, went to the same school and our careers have been quite parallel.

"He is one of the established players and another player I would love to see on the team. But to be honest there are 30 to 40 players I would love to see on the team and we have only room for 12."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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