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McDowell is sitting pretty for his tilt at Open glory

By William S Callaghan

Published 09/07/2016

On course: Graeme McDowell on his way to a three-under-par 69 in the Scottish Open second round at Castle Stuart
On course: Graeme McDowell on his way to a three-under-par 69 in the Scottish Open second round at Castle Stuart

Graeme McDowell - along with Padraig Harrington - is right in the mix at the Scottish Open ahead of his Open bid at Royal Troon next week, although Harrington felt Castle Stuart was too easy yesterday.

The Dubliner was reacting to the set-up of the links near Inverness after strong winds affected the scoring.

Tournament officials moved tees forward and kept the speed of the greens relatively slow in response to the slow pace of play and the problems encountered by players on wind-exposed putting surfaces.

Harrington said: "It was a tough day but I felt it was very playable.

"They hadn't hidden the pin positions, the fairways are wide enough for that sort of wind, the greens are wide enough at the front for that sort of wind.

"It was just a linksy day. It was similar to what I'd get at home if I played during the winter.

"I was disappointed that they went and softened the golf course up today. I think they made it a little too easy."

Sweden's Alex Noren took advantage of the course to lead overnight on eight-under par after carding 66.

McDowell and Harrington are both three shots off the pace.

New Zealand's Danny Lee, who also shot 66, and Eddie Pepperell of England (67) were one adrift on seven-under.

The two Irish Major winners handled the first 36 holes in fine style with similar scores - 69 yesterday and 70 on day one for each of them.

Harrington's five birdies in round two included a tap-in on the 330-yard par-4 16th, his seventh hole.

He drove the green and his 10ft eagle attempt finished a couple of inches wide of the cup.

McDowell's game looked in good shape, and he made some solid par saves along with four birdies and just one bogey.

The best save came on the par-three 17th. Ulsterman G-Mac missed the green with his tee shot, but managed to deftly chip the ball out of rough on a down slope and almost holed out.

Belfast's Michael Hoey hit a 72 for two-over par 146 - enough to make the cut which fell at +3.

Shane Lowry, Paul Dunne and Paul McGinley were outside the mark, which means Lowry and Dunne will have more time to prepare for next week's Open.

Dunne's 70 represented an eight shot improvement on his first round 78, but at +4 148, it was too little, too late to see him through to the weekend.

Lowry bowed out on six-over par 150 - 77, 73 - while McGinley, who has played very few tournaments, was on nine-over.

On the Challenge Tour, Ulsterman Cormac Sharvin shot 64 in the D+D Real Slovakia Challenge in Senica to lie just two shots off the lead held by Norway's Espen Kofstad.

Kofstad set the pace at 12-under par and led by a shot from Scott Henry of Scotland.

Sharvin was in a group of four one shot further back.

Ruaidhri McGee registered a 69 to remain in contention on -8.

Kevin Phelan, the only other Irish player to make the cut, carded 68 for six-under par 138.

Waterford's Seamus Power, who became the first Irishman to win on the Web.Com Tour when he triumphed in the United Leasing & Finance Championship last May, was on three-under par after 36 holes of the Lecom Health Challenge in New York.

Power, who on Monday is expected to be confirmed along with Harrington as an Irish Olympian, shot 68 to add to his opening 73. Clubhouse leader was Rhein Gibson on 12-under.

Belfast Telegraph

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