Graeme McDowell stays patient
Northern Ireland man survives battle with a windy Blue Monster
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Florida. Photograph: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Graeme McDowell called it as he walked off eating a banana after completing a first round 73. “Windy. Firm. Tough,” he said. “You’ve got to be very patient out there. It’s very difficult. It could have been 78, it could have been 68. It was a mixed bag. . . I’m hitting it well.”
The man from windy Portrush was tied for 23rd, five shots behind Patrick Reed as the delayed first round was completed. But his Causeway Coast genes kicked in for round two as he survived a cruel battle with a windblown Blue Monster to compile a archetypal one-under 71 to soar into a provisional share of the clubhouse lead with Italy’s Francesco Molinari on level par.
It was a wonderful effort from the 2010 US Open champion on day of utter carnage that saw the scoring average soar from 73 for the first round to 76.7 late last night
As McDowell was grinding, Donald Trump roamed the media centre, pressing the flesh and getting a feel for the mood of the scribes as his multi-million new toy put 49 of the world’s top 50 to the test.
“The Blue Monster is back,” Trump, ever the PR man, declared before promising to reimburse a reporter who complained about having to pay $18.65 for a soggy sandwich in the clubhouse coffee shop earlier in the week.
McDowell had his sights on a slightly bigger bounty – the €1.1 million winner’s share of the €6.4 million prize fund.
Starting on the back nine, he birdied the long 12th with a wedge to 11ft, holed a six footer for par at the next and then hit a glorious low draw with a fairway wood from the rough to find the apron of the 14th from where he two putted from 90 feet for par.
With a north wind gusting over 30mph on a course more exposed than ever following the redesign, he should have been in his element but looked to be suffering as much as his American playing partners, Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker.
Forced to save par from 10 feet after overshooting the exposed 16th and four feet at the 17th after a long range approach putted, he missed an eight footer for birdie at the downwind 18th before stroking home a 30 footer at the second to move into the top 10 on one under.
He had one of just four bogey free rounds going until he overshot the sixth and had no chance of getting his pitch close. But he then got up and down for par from 53 yards at the seventh and parred the par-five eighth.
“It was tough out there but the ball was incredibly stable on the greens and there wasn’t much oscillation,” McDowell said.
“It was just really tough to pick your irons shots and pick the right shape and just hang in there. I was just really happy with the way I controlled my ball flight and holed some nice putts on the front nine to keep me hanging in there. I am looking forward to watching the coverage and seeing how the rest of the boys handle it.”