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McDowell to make most of a late call-up

By Peter Hutcheon

Graeme McDowell has shrugged off his first round exit from the World Match Play and insists he’s put the extra time off to very good use.

The Portush man is playing at this week’s Honda Classic at the PGA National in Florida on a commissioner’s exemption and as he is still just inside the world’s top 50, he’s included in the field for next week’s WGC CA Championship.

“After 10 days relaxing at my home in Lake Nona, I put a lot of work into my game, and I feel in perfect shape ahead of two big weeks coming up,” he said.

And he will have to step up to the plate on a course widely regarded as one of the most difficult on the PGA Tour.

“The premium at this course is accuracy, which will play in my favour,” he said.

“This course is one of the most difficult on the PGA Tour, I think it ranked seventh most difficult last year, and typically the scores are not that low.

“Level par is considered a pretty good round here, hence my game needs to be sharp, players need to be accurate.”

McDowell plays the first two rounds with Lee Westwood while Rory McIlroy, playing his first strokeplay event as a fully paid-up member of the PGA Tour, partners Australians Matthew Goggin and Jason Day.

McIlroy has spent most of his time off since his Match Play exit back home in Northern Ireland but spent time in Florida this week with renowned sports psychologist Dr Bob Rotella.

Meanwhile, Darren Clarke reckons the European players are much better equipped to compete in the heat and humidity of places like Kuala Lumpur than they used to be.

Clarke tees off in the Maybank Malaysian Open this morning and is fully prepared to drink his quota of the average ten litres of water players will consume between stepping out onto the practice range and handing in their cards.

“I don't think we find it any easier but we know how to deal with the conditions a lot better than we used to,” Clarke said.

Kilkenny’s Gary Murphy, who has competed in six Malaysian Opens including the last five, added: “It's tough competing out there as the heat and humid just sap all your energy.

“You just have to keep your fluids up and drink plenty of water.

“I've played out here before so I know what to expect.

“But even though it's going to be really hot and humid I've been pleased with my preparations this week.”

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