McDowell right in the thick of it
Golf:He has put himself in a position to fulfil his boyhood dreams. Graeme McDowell, who made his Major breakthrough when winning the US Open two years ago, once again proved that he rises to the big time occasions with an impressive third round 67 to move into a share of second place alongside Brandt Snedeker – four shots adrift of 54-hole leader Adam Scott – heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I’m sure myself and Adam will be experiencing slightly different emotions, but it will all boil down to the same thing: pressure!” said McDowell, who only last month played in the final pairing of the final round in the US Open where he finished runner-up to Webb Simpson.
This time, the 32-year-old Ulsterman moved into contention in back-to-back Majors with an impressive back nine salvo that yielded three birdies in his final six holes. Indeed, his caddie, Kenny Comboy, had offered wise words as they approached the turn which basically advised patience. As G-Mac put it, “I kind of felt the tournament perhaps slipping away from me a little bit and really had to dig deep for some patience and try to sort of put things in perspective.”
Although Scott, seeking his first Major title, assumed the 54-hole lead with a 68 for a 54-hole total of 11-under-par 199, McDowell not only found a patient mindset but also managed to roll in birdie putts on the 13th, 14th and 17th holes that propelled him into the thick of things on 203 and into the final pairing.
As a child growing up on the links at Portrush, McDowell had often allowed himself the thoughts of one day lifting the Claret Jug. And, he claimed, last year’s victory by Darren Clarke would serve as an inspiration heading into the final day’s showdown.
Of coping with the pressure, McDowell remarked: “It will boil down to being scared, probably of failing more than winning. I can't really relate to what Adam is feeling because he's been a hell of a player for a very long time. He's got the unfortunate burden of never having won a Major championship.
“But come the first tee, that burden will kind of be irrelevant because we'll both be experiencing the same kind of nerves. When it comes to closing it (on Sunday evening), that will be a different scenario. I just need to get as close as I can coming down the stretch.
“The golf course is the main challenge. I don't think we need to be worried about each other. I don't need to be worried about anybody on that leaderboard apart from myself and the golf course. Come the last five or six holes, that will start to change, and we'll see what we have to do. Up until that point it will just be a case of trying to position myself and trying to hole some putts.”