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The Open: Pebble Beach hangover catches up with Graeme McDowell

US Open champion Graeme McDowell could not reproduce his Pebble Beach form when it really mattered at St Andrews and had to settle for a share of 23rd place.

A final two under round of 70 left the Portrush man on three under for the tournament and he said it was his putting stroke which was to blame.

“I played beautifully in the last round, I really did, my best all week,” he said.

“Yet I finished in an ambulance. I three-putted 16 and four-putted 17 from the front edge of the green. Just stupid stuff really.

“I didn't have it on the greens at all this week,” added McDowell, who had 10 three-putts among his 132 putts at the Open, 36 on Saturday and another 34 yesterday.

“Tee to green I actually controlled my ball pretty well. I just putted diabolically to be honest, kind of unlike me. I normally like this kind of linksy green. I normally read them pretty well.”

McDowell's focus, especially over clutch six to eight-footers, was undermined by fatigue following last month's victory at Pebble Beach.

He's relishing a complete break this week and the opportunity to recharge his batteries.

“I maybe could have done with using those two weeks after Pebble a little bit more wisely but you need to celebrate. You want to do all those things, to enjoy yourself,” he explained.

“I prepared as well as I could the last fortnight but there definitely was a sense of coming down this week,” McDowell added.

“I think cloud nine is down to about cloud five and with a new Major champion crowed now, it's going to take a bit of the focus off me, which is good.”

McDowell (pictured) also paid tribute to winner Louis Oosthuizen.

“He's a great kid. We've known for a long time he is extremely talented and for a long time he worked with the same coach, Pete Cowen, as me,” he said.

“He seems to have been one of these guys who has underachieved because he has all the tools.”

Meanwhile, Darren Clarke closed with a one under 17 for a share of 44th on level par.

His chances went with a five over 77 playing in the company of good friend Tiger Woods in Saturday’s third round.

Ultimately it was a disappointing finish for the Dungannon man but if he’d been told after failing to come through qualifying at Sunningdale last month that he’d be playing with the world number one in the third round at St Andrew’s, he’d never have believed it.

It’s been quite a few weeks for the Ulsterman — who plays with Rory McIlroy against Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry in the Lough Erne Challenge in Co Fermanagh on Wednesday.

And now that he has the chance to reflect on his win at the JP McManus Pro-Am, his runner-up finish at the Scottish Open and now a solid performance at St Andrews, it will give him great confidence for the rest of the season.

A place a the final Major of the season, next month’s US PGA at Whistling Straits, is unlikely.

As is his main aim for the season — securing a place on Colin Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup team.

For that to happen, he’s going to need a wild card from the captain and, with so many top players not currently in the nine automatic places, he is going to have to make quite a persuasive case before the end of next month when the Scotsman announces his team.

Belfast Telegraph


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