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G-Mac is heading home after early French Open exit

 

By Phil Casey

In terms of preparation for next week's Irish Open at Portstewart, Graeme McDowell's Open de France couldn't have gone much worse.

After such a promising opening round of 69, two under around Le Golf National, the Rathmore man finished his second round with four consecutive bogeys, carding an ugly five-over 76 to leave him three-over, two adrift of the cut mark.

Up until that point McDowell, who is a two-time winner at the Open de France, had scattered three birdies among four bogeys, but in his last four holes his charge catastrophically fell apart as he remarkably dropped those four shots to miss the cut.

It's been a tough year for G-Mac, whose best result was tied 13th at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, and the former US Open champion has fallen to 92nd in the World rankings.

This performance won't do him any favours either, although he can rely on the familiar links of Portstewart next week to try and regain some form.

American Peter Uihlein drew inspiration from the US Open victory of former room-mate Brooks Koepka to claim a share of the lead.

Uihlein, who shared an apartment with compatriot Koepka in his first few years as a professional, carded a second consecutive 67 to join Spain's Adrian Otaegui at the top of the leaderboard on eight under par.

Otaegui had set the early clubhouse target following a superb 66, before an afternoon thunderstorm led to a delay of two hours and five minutes. After going to the turn in 34, a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th took Uihlein into the outright lead, only for the 27-year-old to card his only bogey of the first two days at the 17th hole.

England's Tommy Fleetwood, who was fourth behind Koepka at Erin Hills, shares third place with Sweden's Alexander Bjork after completing a 68 following the weather delay.

First-round leader Paul Waring could only add a 72 to his opening 64 to finish six under par alongside compatriot Nathan Kimsey, with Graeme Storm, Ross Fisher and Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters a shot further back.

"I putted well, that's the only positive," Pieters said after a 71 featuring four birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.

"I scrambled well on some holes, but my putting has definitely been very good the last two days.

"I didn't hit it well off the tee and it cost me four or five shots; it's definitely a second-shot golf course. If you can place it in the fairway you don't need to be very long. If you're hitting from the short grass it's a big advantage, especially with the rough being wet.

"I've got work to do but I won't be calling my coach Pete Cowen. I know what I have to do."

• The Vagliano Trophy match between Great Britain and Ireland and the Continent of Europe is perfectly poised at 6-6 heading into day two.

Skerries star Maria Dunne's 2&1 win over Italian Virginia Elena Carta ensured the sides ended deadlocked as GB&I bid to win for the first time since 2005.

The win for Dunne saw her bounce back from the disappointment of a heavy foursomes defeat earlier in the day when she and Lurgan's Annabel Wilson were beaten 7&6 by Matilda Castren and Morgane Metraux.

The morning foursomes ended 2-2 with the Ulster duo of world number one Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey halving their showdown with Swedish pair Linnea Strom and Julia Engström.

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