McDowell ends with flourish and makes strong Open case
GOLF:THE HOME town boy, as they say, did good. Graeme McDowell didn’t manage to get his hands on the Waterford Crystal trophy, not this time at any rate; but, as he folded his arms so that his white Under Armour peaked out from his G-Mac by Kartel clothing, his demeanour was deservedly smug in the nicest possible way.
Smug on two counts: firstly, McDowell had closed out with a 66 that included a haul of seven birdies and moved him up the leader board for a top-20 finish; and, secondly, and perhaps more importantly in his eyes, his beloved Dunluce links – and his home town – had, despite the rain, which tried to spoil the party, come out smelling of roses.
Then, a serious mood about a serious topic. “The golf course has had a resounding, successful reaction from all the players. They’ve loved it,” beamed McDowell. “Yes, it was a little slow . . . but get the firm, fast and get the rough up, this course is a great British Open test. I’d love it, love in my heart, to see it come back here.
“There are so many variables involved in putting the Open championship together. All we can do is put our chips in the middle of the table and say, ‘we’re all in’ . . . I feel like we can handle it now, and I think we have proven our case.”
Case proven, maybe, but McDowell acknowledged the difference between the Irish Open – albeit one that set crowd records over the four days for a regular tournament on the PGA European Tour – and the Open championship itself was one of comparing a “dwarf” to a “behemoth”.
“We have good crowds. Could we handle another 10-15,000 through these gates? It would require a lot of planning but I figure the RA are pretty good at doing what they do. If the Open championship doesn’t come here, it will be for very good reasons I’m sure,” added McDowell, who did make the valid point that there could be increased grand-stand seating around the course.
On another point, McDowell put forward the view that the Irish Open – should a North-South rota come into being – deserved to go to other courses on the northern seaboard. He named nearby Portstewart, Royal County Down and Ballyliffin as worthy of consideration. “Perhaps we can take it one year and it goes down the South the next year. I have no idea. That’s up to the European Tour and everyone involved in Irish golf.”
“I think it should be rotating around the best links courses in Ireland, we’ve plenty to choose from. Let’s get that North and South of the Border kind of vibe going year by year. I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do that.”
As for his game, McDowell jumped up 14 places to tied-16th with a 66 that was his best round of the tournament. Ultimately, he felt, his failure to contend came down to his putting.
“There’s a lot of grass on these greens and that’s Mother Nature doing her part,” said McDowell, who has come from playing on greens as fast as 14 on the stimp in the States to a high of 10 here.