McDowell believes he has right mindset to make skills-set work
PHILIP REIDhears the Northern Ireland player outline what it takes to win
ALL IT takes is for one loose shot to be morphed, from world beater to hacker in an instant. Graeme McDowell took his transformation in good spirits, as his bunker shot from a greenside trap found the putting surface and rolled away from him on the quasi-humped on the 17th hole . . . and off to a netherworld.
What was a man to do?
G-Mac, using his body language, waved bye-bye to the ball as it disappeared off the green.
Thankfully for him, it was only in practice. But the shot duly served to remind McDowell – winner of the US Open at Pebble Beach two years ago – of the perils awaiting any slightly-off shot on the course at the Olympic Club as he forms a two-pronged attack force from Northern Ireland seeking to extend the remarkable sequence of champions.
“Will it continue?,” he wondered, before responding: “Obviously, we’ve only got two chances. Darren (Clarke) is not here and we’re disappointed by it, hopefully he gets real well soon. Rory’s obviously in great form, the defending champion. I feel like this type of golf course sets up for me. But we’re only two. We’re a fairly strong two. The chances are there, of course. It’d take a lot to ask. But who knows?”
Since his Major breakthrough at Pebble Beach, McDowell has settled comfortably into carrying his Major status with him from one side of the Atlantic to the other and around the globe. Unfortunately for him, his form of late hasn’t been what he would desire. He has missed three cuts in his last four outings – The Players, the BMW PGA and the St Jude Classic – and, yet, in the midst of all that, reached the final of the World Matchplay in Spain.
Although “disappointed” with his performance in Memphis last week, McDowell – who tops the driving accuracy on the US Tour this season – is convinced this week’s challenge will suit his game. “I’m ready to go . . . I really felt like I turned a corner with a few swing thoughts (working here with coach Pete Cowan). I’m looking forward to a big summer from here.”
Of the test ahead, McDowell observed: “Patience is hugely important here. You’re going to make bogeys. You’ve got to realise that before you step on the first tee. When they do eventually come, you’ve got to stay patient and keep believing there’s chances out there. If you just play your game, play solid, putt well and hang in, you can be there in the mix going into the weekend.”
He added: “I feel like I know what the mindset is at the US Open . . . I think a golf course this difficult is going to take 60 per cent of the field out of play, because 60 per cent of the guys are going to let this course get to them. It’s going to beat them up and that’s going to leave 40 or 50 guys who can get it round here.
“Those are the guys you’ve got to beat. You’ve got to make sure you’re one of them first and foremost and stay patient enough to be still standing come the weekend. If you can stay in around par going into the weekend, perhaps you’ll have a shot on Sunday.”