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Graeme McDowell hoping for fightback at Honda Classic

Graeme McDowell saw the golfing gods turn their back on him for the second day in a row as he got stuck in neutral at the Honda Classic.

The US Open champion struggled with his long game and an ice cold putter as blustery conditions turned the challenging Champions Course at PGA National into a real beast.

In the end, the Portrush star was happy to post a one over par 71 that leaves him the middle of the pack on four over par.

And while that's a heady nine strokes adrift of clubhouse leader Rory Sabbatini, who equalled the course record with a stunning six-under 64, the reigning US Open champion still believes he can motor his way back into contention with a low round today.

“Rory is five under but you are never too far out of touch on this golf course and if I get out there tomorrow morning and go low, you can get yourself right back in the mix,” McDowell said. “I'm battling my full swing right now.

“I have been working extremely hard on my short game the last couple of weeks and that's been the pleasing thing because it has been sharp.

“But my long game is a little out of sync. I just need to put the pieces together because a few weeks ago my long game felt easy and my short game was difficult.

“Now my short game is feeling good and my long game is all over the place. But that's golf. That's why we love it so much.”

South African Sabbatini had just 21 putts in a seven-birdie round.

In contrast, McDowell used the blade 30 times in yesterday's 71 and apart from holing a 25 footer from the fringe of the fourth, his 13th, for only his second birdie of the week, the longest official putt he has holed in two days was a slippery six and a half footer for par at his 17th hole yesterday.

McDowell followed his birdie at the fourth with back to back bogeys at the fifth and sixth which momentarily left him perilously close to the cut line.

“All in all it's been a brutal couple of days and I'm very happy to hang in there the way I have. You are never very happy with four over par but this is a par-70 golf course, which is hard at the best of times,” he admitted.

Rory McIlroy was battling to avoid his first missed cut since last year's US Open at Pebble Beach.

Three over starting the day, the Ulsterman bogeyed the third, fifth and seventh and then followed a fine birdie at the ninth with a bogey at the 13th to teeter on the six over par projected cut line with four to play.

Belfast Telegraph


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