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McDowell: I'd give up place at Open for a win in Canada

 

In contention: Graeme McDowell
In contention: Graeme McDowell

By Brian Keogh

Graeme McDowell chiselled out a three under par 67 to keep leaders Scott Brown and Matt Kucher in his sights at the RBC Canadian Open and admitted he's becoming fed up with talk of The Open.

The Portrush native must finish in the top 10 at Hamilton Golf & Country Club where there are three exemptions up for grabs at Royal Portrush. But McDowell, in joint seventh, admitted his sole concern is to win again.

"I feel like I've had three or four months wrestling with the Portrush dilemma," said McDowell, who has accepted that the R&A Open organisers cannot issue him a special exemption after speculating about that possibility recently.

"I'm thinking of putting a statement out on Twitter and saying I appreciate everyone's concern," he said.

"The R&A don't have a precedent where they've invited guys before, and that's fine. At least I know my fate.

"I'm going out here trying to win the RBC Canadian Open this week. I would rather win this week and not play Portrush. That's the bottom line."

Rory McIlroy is tied 13th after, five shots behind, after a 66 yesterday.

McDowell, the world No  121, will have four more chances to grab a golden ticket for The Open should he fail in Ontario.

These include next week’s US Open at Pebble Beach, where he made his major breakthrough in 2010.

“I have a vision of getting back to the top of the game one more time,” the former world No  4 said.

“How cool would it be if Pebble Beach is once again the launching pad?”

At the top of the leaderboard American duo Scott Brown and Matt Kuchar sit on 12 under par.

Brandt Snedeker and Canadian Nick Taylor are a shot further back.

McDowell will be delighted with his three under round of 67  which leaves him eight under for the tournament and within striking distance of the leaders.

McIlroy will also be encouraged by his four under round of 66, leaving him on seven under par.

The Holywood ace had to recover from an opening bogey to  post an impressive score. Birdies at the fifth, six, seventh and ninth holes put a spring in his step and he repeated the trick on the 11th and 17th before a bogey finish.

Waterford’s Seamus Power finished on level par, outside the projected cut of two under. Dubliner Padraig Harrington finished on three over par.

Ardglass man Cormac Sharvin was the only Irish player to make the one-under cut in the Swiss Challenge in Lucerne after a 69 but he’s joint 42nd, 10 shots behind Swede Christofer Blomstrand on two-under.

Ulsterman Darren Clarke was just three shots behind Senior PGA champion Ken Tanigawa, tied for fourth after an opening 68 in the PGA Tour Champions’ Mastercard Japan Championship.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee fired the first hole in one in GolfSixes history to dump defending champions Ireland out of the tournament.

Jaidee’s stunning effort helped subdue Ireland 3-1 for Thailand to win Group B and book a quarter-final against Scotland at the contest in Cascais. The 49-year-old admitted his surprise at the stroke.

“I had a perfect shot,” Jaidee said. “We’re very excited to be in the tournament.

“Finally we got through and that’s the main thing we have to do.”

The short-format tournament in Portugal has players teeing off over a swimming pool, with a DJ spinning tunes for the high-spirited fans.

England Women and Germany Women took on the men, with players allowed to wear shorts and use laser measuring devices to speed up play.

Germany Women lost a dramatic play-off to Australia, while England Women went out thanks to a draw with Thailand and defeats to Ireland and Sweden.

England’s men beat Portugal and Scotland to move through to today’s knockout stages, riding out a defeat to India along the way. Tom Lewis and Paul Waring bagged four birdies in a fine 3-1 win over Portugal, only to lose 2-1 to India.

England rallied for a 2-1 win over Scotland however, which proved enough to qualify for the knockout action.

Group A winners England will now therefore face Group B runners-up Sweden.

Australia will meet Spain, while France will clash with Italy.

• Georgia Hall has been made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Hall, 23, won the 2018 Women’s British Open.

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