Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

McDowell’s hopes for tough test let down by greens’ friendly pins

Graeme McDowell wanted a much tougher test for the field in the final round of the Irish Open at Royal Portrush yesterday.

And given that it was played in the most benign conditions of the week, he felt the European Tour could have been much more adventurous in how they set up the course.

“They wanted a bit of scoring and they wanted a shootout and that's what they got,” he said after his closing round of 66.

“Some of the pins were in very easy positions, like at 14 where it should be set up in the back right of the green, but instead it was very easy to get to.

“The pin on 10 was accessible, 11 was easy, 15 was playing short and coming in the last was playing downwind so the guys could go nuts on the back nine.

“The scoring was good today because it was set up that way.

“Links golf is designed to be played in the wind and designed to be firm and fast and unfortunately we didn't have either of those elements today.”

The was a hint of frustration and certainly disappointment in McDowell's remarks as he had been so desperate to be involved coming down the stretch yesterday.

But he knew, even though he was compiling his best round of the week, it was never going to be enough to overhaul the leaders who would also be finding birdies much easier to come by than they had over the opening three days.

Saturday's rain had left the greens receptive to even long iron approach shots and with hardly any wind it left the course looking a little exposed.

McDowell reached the turn in two under and then birdied three of the next four holes to get back to nine under.

And he at least finished in the best possible style with a great birdie putt on the last which earned him a tied 16th finish, which he probably would have taken when he was in danger of missing the cut on Friday.

“Right from the word go I really wasn't seeing these greens like a man who has grown up here,” he said.

“I didn't putt well early in the week which gave me a tough position in the field on Saturday when the weather came in early.

“I played 14 holes in the worst of the weather and that really shot me out of the tournament.

“Add those two things together and I was really flogging a dead horse a little bit today.”

McDowell believes there is no reason why the Irish Open should not alternate between Northern Ireland and the Republic from now on.

“I think we have proven that Royal Portrush is a very successful venue to be staging this great event,” he said.

“Next year we're at Carton House and I love that as a venue, but I think it should be played at a great links every year.

“Let's bring it up here to Royal County Down perhaps some year.

“I think it should be rotating around the best links courses in Ireland and we have plenty to choose from.

“So let's get that north and south of the border kind of vibe going year by year because I can see no reason why we shouldn't do that.”

McDowell is playing the French Open this week, then taking the week before the Open Championship off.

And he certainly fancies a real tilt at the Claret Jug.

“Today was a nice reinforcer that I'm playing nicely and doing the right thing,” the 2012 US Open runner-up said.

“I will spend a couple of days at Lytham to do my homework and make sure that I'm ready to go.

“There are two Majors left this season and if you handed me one of them I wouldn't care which.”

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