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Under-rated Ballyliffin is more difficult than I thought, admits Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell had a topsy-turvy round on Thursday at the Irish Open.
Graeme McDowell had a topsy-turvy round on Thursday at the Irish Open.

By Gareth Hanna

Graeme McDowell is starting to see Ballyliffin's glaring white, sandy teeth.

The Portrush man had told his Wednesday press conference that he expected a winning score of -20 at this weekend's Irish Open.

But after his opening one under par 71, he admitted that the course will prove a lot more difficult than he first thought, not least due to it's long list of headache-inducing bunkers.

"I really felt building up to today that the scoring was going to be really low, but you know, as they start to tuck these pins away, this course is firm, and I can start to see the difficulty level," he said.

"It's very good. It reminds me a lot of Carnoustie because the bunkering is not overdone but it's very strategic. You have a lot of bunkers that you have to fly and a couple of that you have to stay short of; it asks you a lot of questions off the tee, this golf course.

"The green shapes, there's a of false front and greens that run away from you and it has a little bit of everything. I think this golf course is very underrated here in the north and the guys are really, really liking what they see here."

McDowell made a total of six birdies during an exciting round that followed on from the 19 birdies he notched up in last week's Open de France.

"I made enough mistakes today," he said. "You know, thankfully the mistakes today were only bogeys because last week in France, they were doubles, so that was pleasing.

"I got myself into a few bad spots on especially the first nine holes and managed to get out of them safely and like I say, pleasing to hit it as well as I did coming down the stretch. It would have been nice to knock that one in on the last but I'm not going to complain. Salvaged a decent round of golf today."

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