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.”

Scott’s quest for a maiden Major, with Tiger Woods’s old caddie Steve Williams, gathered momentum with an impressive third round 68 in which he outscored 36-holes leader Snedeker by five shots. For his part, Snedeker – who suffered four bogeys on his outward journey – revived his own hopes with late birdies on the 16th and 18th holes, eventually signing for a 73 that left him alongside McDowell.

Tiger Woods, after a poor start which saw him suffer two bogeys in his opening three holes, righted the ship to stay in the hunt. Woods recovered to shot a 70 for 204 that left him alone in fourth place and five shots adrift of Scott.

“A four shot lead doesn't seem to be very much this year on any golf tournament that I've watched,” said a cautious Scott, adding: “That doesn't mean a lot. The good part is if I play a solid round of golf, it will be very hard for the others to beat me. That's all I'm thinking about.”

Scott will be very much the hunted heading into the final round of the 141st edition of the Open championship. McDowell is one of those in pursuit and recalled that last week he’d tweeted a response to pictures Clarke had posted of himself and his family with the Claret Jug as he prepared to return it to the R&A. It went along the lines that he’d love to have the opportunity to return the famed trophy to Northern Ireland. He has given himself that chance.

Collated third round scores
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, Irishin bold, par 70)

199Adam Scott (Aus) 64 67 68

203 Graeme McDowell67 69 67, Brandt Snedeker (USA) 66 64 73

204Tiger Woods (USA) 67 67 70

205Zach Johnson (USA) 65 74 66, Ernie Els (Rsa) 67 70 68

206Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 69 66 71

207Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 68 68 71, Bill Haas (USA) 71 68 68

208Mark Calcavecchia (USA) 71 68 69, Matt Kuchar (USA) 69 67 72, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 72 68 68, Bubba Watson (USA) 67 73 68

209Dustin Johnson (USA) 73 68 68, Jason Dufner (USA) 70 66 73, Kyle Stanley (USA) 70 69 70, Luke Donald 70 68 71

210Nick Watney (USA) 71 70 69, Steven Alker (Nzl) 69 69 72, Vijay Singh (Fij) 70 72 68, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 71 68 71, James Morrison 68 70 72, Simon Khan 70 69 71, Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 68 72 70

211Steve Stricker (USA) 67 71 73, Justin Hicks (USA) 68 74 69, Matthew Baldwin 69 73 69, Keegan Bradley (USA) 71 72 68, Hunter Mahan (USA) 70 71 70, Peter Hanson (Swe) 67 72 72, Alexander Noren (Swe) 71 71 69, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 70 69 72

212Francesco Molinari (Ita) 69 72 71, Garth Mulroy (Rsa) 71 69 72, Joost Luiten (Ned) 73 70 69, Simon Dyson 72 67 73, Harris English (USA) 71 71 70, Paul Lawrie 65 71 76, Dale Whitnell 71 69 72, Jamie Donaldson 68 72 72, Carl Pettersson (Swe) 71 68 73, Padraig Harrington70 72 70

213Toshinori Muto (Jpn) 67 72 74, Greg Owen 71 71 71, Branden Grace (Rsa) 73 69 71, Gary Woodland (USA) 73 70 70, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 72 68 73, Rafael Echenique (Arg) 73 69 71, Jim Furyk (USA) 72 70 71, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 71 69 73, Ian Poulter 71 69 73, Rickie Fowler (USA) 71 72 70, Troy Matteson (USA) 70 72 71

214Adilson Da Silva (Bra) 69 74 71, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 65 77 72, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 71 71 72, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 69 71 74, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 73 70 71, Ted Potter, Jr. (USA) 69 71 74, Sang-moon Bae (Kor) 72 71 71, K J Choi (Kor) 70 73 71, Yoshinori Fujimoto (Jpn) 71 70 73, Lee Westwood 73 70 71

215Bob Estes (USA) 69 72 74, Rory McIlroy67 75 73, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 70 70 75, Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 69 73 73, Brendan Jones (Aus) 69 74 72, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 69 73 73

216Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 71 71 74, Juvic Pagunsan (Phi) 71 72 73, Andres Romero (Arg) 70 69 77, John Senden (Aus) 70 71 75, Warren Bennett 71 70 75, Lee Slattery 69 72 75

217Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 70 71 76, Chad Campbell (USA) 73 70 74, Ross Fisher 72 71 74, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa) 70 71 76, Charles Howell III (USA) 72 71 74

219Tom Watson (USA) 71 72 76

220John Daly (USA) 72 71 77

221Martin Laird 70 69 82

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