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Graeme McDowell in love affair with golf's big time

For the first time in close to three weeks since his stunning Pebble Beach triumph Graeme McDowell did not know the whereabouts of his newest love, the gleaming US Open trophy.

Like any new romance, the trophy has hardly been out McDowell's sight since the two were introduced on June 20 on the 18th green at Pebble Beach.

McDowell escorted it on a first date later that evening and kept it close to his side to the wee hours or the morning before tucking it into bed beside him.

A few days later he brought the trophy home to Northern Ireland to meet his family and friends, and then presented her to the Rathmore Club where you could never imagine how many people wanted to hug, kiss and have their photo taken with McDowell's new love.

It then accompanied McDowell to Lake Nona for a similar embrace among his Floridian neighbours and friends, and then travelled by his side to Adare Manor, where she shone ever so brightly during an overcast Irish summer.

For near on three weeks McDowell's guarded her jealously letting admirers get close — but not too close.

So when McDowell attended the Barclays Scottish media centre all on his lonesome yesterday it prompted the question: “Where is the trophy?”

There was a look of complete surprise on McDowell's face as if to say: “You're right! Where is it?”

McDowell looked at his Horizon Sports manager, Conor Ridge sitting in the front row. “Yes, where is the trophy, Conor?” said McDowell.

Fortunately, McDowell's new love was safely tucked up in Ridge's Dublin residence but only until tomorrow week when McDowell will present the US Open trophy back to the Rathmore Club for safe-keeping.

“I am feeling withdrawal symptoms here at the minute,” said McDowell. “I've got a pretty big box to carry it around in, so it is pretty heavy piece of luggage to be carrying around.

“It's not going to make the trip with me to St Andrews next week but it's eventually going back to Rathmore and we will have a party after the Open and where I will officially hand it back to them for safekeeping.”

McDowell had been in the media centre last year as defending Barclay's Scottish Open champion but on this occasion the ‘full house' sign went up outside the interview room before McDowell was introduced to the gathering.

“I don't think I'll ever get sick of being introduced at the US Open champion,” he said.

“But I'm on my way back, shall we say and I'd be lying if I said I've done much practice the last two weeks especially after all the celebration.

“So this week it's about getting the body back in shape and the business head screwed back on. I'm playing five of the next six weeks now and I've got to get ready to go.”

After some lunch it was business as usual for McDowell with he and his caddie, Ken Comboy finding their way to the very left side of the range where McDowell was soon joined by coach, Pete Cowen.

McDowell will play the opening two Scottish Open rounds in the company of new French Open champion Miguel Angel Jimenez and South African Charl Scwhartzel.

Organisers have grouped three others of the eight Irish contesting the £3m event in the third group out this morning — Peter Lawrie, Paul McGinley and Gareth Maybin.

Also competing at Loch Lomond is Michael Hoey who returned to form with an 11th last week in France along with Damien McGrane, Lowry and JP McManus Pro-Am winner Darren Clarke.

Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson's latest bid to topple Tiger Woods as world number one starts at Loch Lomond today, but he looked as though he had just been in a fight.

On the eve of the Barclays Scottish Open the Masters champion spent his entire press conference wiping blood away from above his right eyebrow.

Mickelson joked that he had got into “a little tiff” with another player before explaining: “I just scratched myself.”

The main purpose of his two-week trip to Britain is to win the Open at St Andrews on Sunday week, but finishing first or second this weekend should enable him to unseat Woods, who has held the top spot for the past five years.

Three years ago Mickelson lost a play-off to Frenchman Gregory Havret and he stated: “I always look forward to these two weeks and it would mean a lot to win here.”

He insists the number one position is “not something I think about,” but after more than 250 weeks just below Woods in the rankings to get there at long last will surely mean an awful lot.

Belfast Telegraph


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