Graeme McDowell optimistic about Scottish Open despite muscle tear

McIlroy hopes to play tidier rounds of golf and avoid the rough at the Renaissance

Graeme McDowell pictured after putting at the 18th green of Mount Juliet Golf Club during the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Photograph: Peter Fitzpatrick/Inpho

Graeme McDowell pictured after putting at the 18th green of Mount Juliet Golf Club during the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Photograph: Peter Fitzpatrick/Inpho

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With a surgical procedure put on hold until after this mid-summer trip to Europe, Graeme McDowell’s itinerary will feature this week’s Scottish Open and, if he manages to earn one of the three exemptions available at the Renaissance, then on to next week’s 149th British Open: whether it’s one tournament or two, his return Stateside will then prioritise that deferred surgery to repair muscular tears to his right forearm.

“Really just from overuse, too much work in the gym and too much work on the range,” explained McDowell of how he incurred the tears, which will likely see him out of action until the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth where, apart from playing, one of his duties will be in assisting Pádraig Harrington ahead of the Ryder Cup.

Having made a cut for the first time since the Texas Open back in March, McDowell’s positivity levels improved: “I feel like I go to Scotland with some positives to take from the week. I just need to clean up a couple of things, the driver and the putter. They are the strengths of my game and if I can get those things firing and back on track, the rest of my game feels pretty good.”

Soreness

McDowell, who has been wearing a brace on his upper arm to help combat the soreness in his forearm, is one of five Irishmen in the field for this week’s Scottish Open where he is joined by Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Cormac Sharvin and Jonathan Caldwell, with each one of the quintet seeking improvement on their performances at the DDF Irish Open.

In McIlroy’s case, the major issue for him at Mount Juliet was his driving – especially in terms of accuracy– where he hit only three fairways (from 28) over the two weekend rounds.

McIlroy, the world number 10, added the Scottish Open on to his schedule only after stricter restrictions on his wife and daughter travelling to this side of the pond. Given his driving issues at the Irish Open, it would appear that the extra tournament is badly needed as he moves onwards to the final Major of the year at Royal St George’s next week.

An important tool could yet prove to be a 2-iron which McIlroy rescued from his garage a couple of weeks ago and which he believes will become his main club for tee-shots in navigating a route around links terrain these next two weeks: “I was just going through the garage before coming over here and pull a few [2-irons] out. I was testing a few on the range at The Bear’s Club and there was one specific one, I was like, ‘Oh, this could work pretty well’. We’ll give it a go.”

Earned

Certainly, the driver won’t be required as much on links. “I just want to play more tidy rounds of golf, not be in the rough as much, try to play off the fairway a bit more . . . I’d rather take 20 yards off a drive and put it in play than be hacking out of the rough, especially on links where the rough could be pretty bad in places.”

In-form Séamus Power didn’t have to go through the lottery of Monday qualifying for this week’s John Deere Classic, after his top-10 finish in the Rocket Mortgages earned him a spot in the field. Power – who has finished 9th-19th-19th-8th in his last four outings on the PGA Tour, where he has a category but not a full card – is currently 140th on the FedEx Cup standings and has a target of breaking into the top 125 by the Wyndham Championship next month, which is the last of the regular tour events before the playoffs.

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