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Watch: Guinness and bacon is Graeme McDowell's recipe for Irish Open success

By Gareth Hanna

There's nothing quite like your mum's cooking and sleeping in your own bed. Graeme McDowell is hoping that getting back into his family home on the North Coast can work wonders for his golf game.

Home comforts are all around the Portrush man at this week's Irish Open as he stays with his mum and dad and plays on a course partly designed by an old teacher of his.

That's Des Giffin, who was Portstewart Golf Club's Greens Convenor when they sculpted seven new holes after the purchase of land known as Thistly Hollow in 1986. He was also a teacher at Coleraine Grammar but it was his extra-curricular work that McDowell heaped praise on during Tuesday's press conference.

"The front nine is really nice," he said. "It's very much in the sand dunes, true firm and fast links, the rough is a little more sparse. The back nine is completely different turf. It's a little wetter and lusher. There's three times as much rough. It's narrower and trickier. If we don't get any wind this week, the scores will be low but guys have to drive the ball well to have an opportunity. I was a little surprised at how good the set up was, it certainly will hold its own."

Another of Ireland's major champions Padraig Harrington surprised many by revealing he hadn't played Portstewart's Strand Course until his Irish Open preparations but McDowell could scarcely be more at the other end of the spectrum - growing up just around the corner. And this week, he's delighted to the back.

He said: "It's been awfully busy the last few years having my own family so I haven't been able to come to the North Coast much. It's great to see my folks and my friends.

Graeme McDowell discusses how he hopes local knowledge will go a long way at this week's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club.

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"I'm in my mum and dad's house (this week). My old room is still in its former shape. My old bed's still there. I'm getting some home cooking, a couple of pints of Guinness and too many rashers of bacon. It's definitely the part of the season when I put on four or five pounds.

"Portstewart's a course that I played a lot as a kid. We used to play a lot of our schools matches here. I've got a lot of good memories here and it's great to showcase what we have up here.

The big question, though, is will all that be enough to help McDowell to victory?

"My game feels right there so I would dearly love to compete here and compete on Sunday afternoon," he said.

"It's been frustrating because I've been playing well. I just haven't had those big finishes which are the catalyst to confidence and belief. That's the piece of the puzzle that's missing, that belief or confidence. I feel like I'm doing so many things right. I'm driving well, I'm back to putting nearly my best. I'm doing a lot of the things that took me to being one of the best players in the world around 2010 and I'm frustrated that I can't get up to where I want to be. This would be a great week to reignite things."

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