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McGinley and Chopra cautious

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Separated by 10 years, Ireland's Paul McGinley and Sweden's Daniel Chopra share one huge common factor as they look ahead to the $1.25-million Hero Honda Indian Open beginning here on Thursday.

Looking back at the year, McGinley and Chopra have very little to feel excited about. McGinley, who turns 44 on December 16, is here on the sponsor's invitation. A sixth surgery on his left leg kept him away from the competitive golf for the major part of this year. Winner of the 2005 Volvo Masters, McGinley holds an enviable record in team golf. After his memorable winning putt in the 2002 Ryder Cup for the European team, McGinley was also part of the triumph squad in 2004 and 2006.

Earlier, in 1997, McGinley partnered Padraig Harrinton and won the World Cup of Golf.

Living in the present, a four-time winner on the European Tour, McGinley was realistic about his chances here. “I've had a poor year so far, mainly because I missed nearly nine months of action. But I simply loved this course. It's an old-timer's delight.”

Keen to visit Taj Mahal and enjoy Indian food during his stay here, McGinley was already looking ahead to coming back for the Avantha Masters early next year.

Chopra, who will be 34 on December 23, grew up learning the game on this course. However, the familiarity with the DGC course did not help Chopra sound optimistic about his chances.

“I've had a bad year so far and if I can win this week, I'll consider 2010 as a good year. I've corrected a few technically things in my game and physically, after my elbow injury, I am feeling much better,” he said.

Chopra, lucky to get his visa at eleventh hour, reached here early on Tuesday morning. “I simply love being here. I grew up playing here. I remember playing with friends like Arjun Singh and Vivek Bhandari on the putting range till dark. It's truly amazing that structures built over 600 years ago, still stands on this course.”

Though Chopra said he was keeping his expectations “very low” this week, he went on to say, “I still expect to win here. That's why I am here. Finishing second will not make me happy.”

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