McDowell hoping return to European Tour acts as a stimulus
Northern Irishman joins Dunne and Lowry at French Open before playing Irish Open
Graeme McDowell reacts after missing a putt during the second round of the US Open. He missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP
Graeme McDowell will once again hope that a return to European shores – playing this week’s French Open and next week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – will act as a mid-season stimulus, especially as the two tournaments offer tickets into next month’s British Open at Carnoustie for which he is currently not exempt.
One of three Irish players in the field in Paris, along with Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry, McDowell flies back across the Atlantic on the back of two missed cuts in the past two weeks, at the US Open and The Travelers. It is a familiar journey.
Only last month, he flew to Europe on the back of a missed cut at the Byron Nelson but played some of his best golf of the season with a tied-12th in the BMW PGA at Wentworth and tied-fifth at the Italian Open.
McDowell’s itinerary beyond the Irish Open is uncertain. If he manages to earn an exemption to the 147th Open (there are three places available in both France and Ireland, awarded to those not currently exempt who finish in the top-10), then he will stay on to play in the Scottish Open and then the season’s third Major at Carnoustie. If not, he will likely return to the United States in his bid to break into the top-125 on the FedEx Cup standings. He is currently 137th on those PGA Tour standings.
Both Dunne and Lowry – exempt into the British Open through last season’s Race to Dubai order of merit – face into a four-week stretch of big-money tournaments that could define their seasons and also make or break their bids to make Europe’s Ryder Cup team for the match at Paris National in September. The two men are outside securing automatic qualifying places at present.
Séamus Power is the sole Irish player in the field at this week’s PGA Tour stop – the Quicken Loans National – where there are four exemptions available for the Open at Carnoustie.
For Rory McIlroy, though, it will be a rare week off. The Northern Irishman – who led the statistics for play tee-to-green at The Travelers, won by Bubba Watson, but was ranked last in putting – claimed he would put his clubs away for a few days on his return to Florida, where he is in the midst of building a new house.
“I don’t feel like I did hit it that well tee to green. I think the stats say that I did, but I really didn’t feel like I did. I wasn’t really in control of my ball much. My iron play especially didn’t feel that comfortable.
“My driving was good. I drove the ball well, which was a big positive. I put a new driver in the bag this week and that helped . . . . I would have loved to have putted better. But I felt like all parts of my game just needed to be a little bit sharper,” said McIlroy, who finished tied-12th at The Travelers.
His next tournament is the Irish Open at Ballyliffin next week, where he will fulfil the role of tournament host.