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Graeme McDowell learning to live in fast lane

By Karl MacGinty

Graeme McDowell is learning how to live and compete in the vortex into which golf’s Major-winners are thrown.



It’s not been easy, the US Open champ admits, to balance the extra demands brought about by success with the need to devote as much time and attention to that which made him famous — his golf game.

Having attributed back-to-back missed cuts at Bay Hill and the US Masters to “trying to do too many things off the golf course”, McDowell insists he’s back in game mode once again and hopes to prove that point at this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

“Life is a hell of a lot busier than it used be,” he conceded. “At my management company the phone rings a lot more these days, people with requests and commitments and various bibs and bobs like that.

“Off course, we’ve been on a learning curve this season, trying to ensure that I get to the first tee on Thursday ready to go,” the Portrush man added.

“Making sure I don’t spend so much time running around on Tuesday and Wednesday trying to keep sponsors happy and fulfil media commitments that I overlook the important things like practicing, preparing, resting and making sure I’m ready to play.

“I feel like the last four or five weeks, we’ve kind of got our head around that a little bit. At the end of the day I’m still a golfer, so nothing has changed from that viewpoint. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying the game. It’s just that I was feeling a little distracted at times. Now I’m just ready to go.”

McDowell hit the ground running at last week’s Heritage and after opening rounds of 68 and 69, had propelled himself into third on Saturday before playing the final six holes on Pete Dye’s treacherous Harbour Town course in five-over.

“I shot myself in the foot on Saturday but I putted well and it was good to get that feeling of being back in contention. Generally, my game’s coming around and I’m excited about it,” said McDowell.

Clearly, he hopes to bring the buzz of downtown New Orelans, where McDowell’s staying this week, onto a “more user-friendly” Dye course at TPC Louisiana.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy had a weight on his mind as he flew to Leeds in midweek for a consultation with his medical and fitness team.

“Dreading Dexa-Scan,” the world No7 tweeted ... he needn't have worried.

The scan, which measures bone density and body composition, including muscle and fat, showed McIlroy's daily sessions in the gym haven't been wasted.

He gained three kilos of muscle and lost one kilo of fat since New Year.

“Went from 74 kilos to 76 kilos,” he reported on Twitter, adding: “Only another four kilos to go (to his optimum weight of 80 kilos).”

In old money, 76 kilos is just under 12 stone. It's a far cry from the days when the only weight the average Tour professional lifted was a pint tumbler and regular exercise was a brisk walk.

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Ulster confirmed their status as favourites finishing in first place following the strokeplay qualifying round at Royal County Down yesterday. They will play Connacht for a place in the final while Munster take on Leinster in the other semi-final.

The championship links course, with a par of 76, provided a tough test for competitors who played 18 hole strokes (6 from 8 scores to count) before two days of matchplay.

Ulster's Louise Coffey posted the best score with 75, she birdied the 2nd and 9th holes, had a bogey on the 8th but was level par over the back 9 to finish one-under.

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