McGinley tips Rose to bloom in Augusta

RYDER CUP star Paul McGinley admits he would love to see a European triumph at the Masters next week and is tipping England’s Justin Rose to be among the strongest challengers.

European players are currently enjoying unprecedented dominance of the world game but have not tasted victory at Augusta since 1999, when Jose Maria Olazabal donned the green jacket.

Yet McGinley, who won’t be playing as he attempts to revive his career following seven knee operations, is confident more than a decade of largely American dominance is about to come to an end.

“I really fancy a European winner,” he told City A.M. “We’re blessed now with so many candidates. Europeans have won the PGA, US Open, and British Open in recent years but they haven’t won the Masters. It’s an iconic event and a European winner would cement where we are at the moment – right at the top of golf.”

Hopes are high that world No2 Lee Westwood may finally end his wait for a Major at the Masters, but while McGinley acknowledges he is rightly among the favourites, he believes the Englishman most in form is Rose.

“Lee Westwood played very well in Augusta last year and was very unlucky to come up against an inspired Phil Mickelson, who beat him,” the Irishman added. “Justin Rose is the most in-form European at the moment. He’s had a particularly strong start to the American season and he’s going to be there or thereabouts. He’s played well at Augusta in the past too. There’s such a fine line, but if you’re looking at form, you’re probably looking at someone like Rose who’s played particularly well in American conditions.”

McGinley, 44, took the latest steps in his comeback with a decent showing at the Andalucia Masters last weekend and is desperate for an injury-free year. Beyond that, the man famous for sinking the winning putt in the 2002 Ryder Cup is delighted to be mentioned as a possible captain when the contest visits Gleneagles in 2014.

“It would be a great honour, absolutely, a huge honour and I’d love to do it,” he said. “At the moment I’m more concerned with playing good golf, and if I can find a bit of form then it will certainly do my hopes of being Ryder Cup captain no harm at all.”

Paul McGinley will be appearing at Golf LIVE 2011, the ultimate live golf event, which takes place at London Golf Club on May 20-22. For tickets visit www.golfliveevent.com