Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

The Open: Graeme McDowell in plea for wind as he seeks recovery

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 17:  Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland chats with his caddie Ken Comboy on the fourth hole during the first round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 17, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland chats with his caddie Ken Comboy on the fourth hole during the first round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 17, 2014 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Graeme McDowell was desperately seeking his cut shot; Darren Clarke wanted to find more precision with his irons; and Padraig Harrington needed CPR for his putter after it flat-lined on the greens at Hoylake.

These three local Major champions required different fixes after failing to take advantage of near-perfect scoring conditions.

However, Clarke, Harrington and McDowell shared one fervent wish: for sea breezes to whip hard across the Wirral Peninsula today and make a 'proper' links test out of Hoylake.

Clarke, the Open champion in 2011, was best placed of this highly-decorated trio after resolutely fighting back from three-over-par through seven holes.

It was impressive how well Clarke handled several setbacks on the front nine, especially an ugly double-bogey seven out of fairway and greenside bunker at five.

Unfazed, he made three of his own on the back nine for an even-par 72 that left him on the fringe of the top 50.

Harrington and McDowell were more deeply embattled, but unbowed after two-over-par 74s left them with work to do if they're to make the top 70, who will progress through this evening's 36-hole cut, never mind contend for victory.

“If there were three more days of sunshine and not much wind, I'd be pretty much writing myself off at this stage,” McDowell conceded. “No, I'm hoping for windy conditions, so bring it on.

“With the conditions that are forecast over the next couple of days, I don't have to beat myself up," added the Portrush man, whose recent win at the French Open suggested he'd contend this week for another Major title to go with the 2010 US Open.

One-under-par through nine, McDowell's day turned ugly on 10, where his ambitious approach shot from the rough appeared to ricochet left off a marshal and deep into an unplayable lie in a bush, leading to a double-bogey seven.

The bruised official didn't dodge the Ulsterman's golf ball, but he neatly evaded the question when McDowell enquired if he'd been hit: “He just pointed and said, ‘It's right over there, in that bush'.”

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