Five ways Graeme McDowell can still qualify for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush
As things stand Graeme McDowell will not be teeing it up at this year's Open Championship in his hometown of Portrush.
The question marks over the 2010 US Open champion's participation when the major rolls into town is the subject of increasing intrigue across the golfing world.
McDowell has said he felt he was worthy of a special invite but the R&A, organisers of the Open, have reiterated this week that they do not, and will not, throw out exemptions to compete for the Claret Jug.
If he wants to be there, he's going to have to earn it.
McDowell has won on the PGA Tour this season but, as luck would have it, his victory at the Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic did not count as part of the Open Qualifying Series.
With six weeks until tee off at Royal Portrush, McDowell still has a few chances to secure his spot and, with it, the relief of supporters everywhere.
"I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I'm there," he told the BBC's gold podcast, The Cut.
"I've already said there is no amount of alcohol that could keep me on the property of Portrush that week if I'm not competing. It would be very bittersweet, shall we say.
"I've got a lot of confidence the way I'm playing and I've got to keep my head down and shove it to the back of my mind."
So when and where are these opportunities to qualify?
First up here are five that McDowell has indicated he will be playing in:
1. Canadian Open (June 6-9)
The matter could be done and dusted as early as this weekend with G Mac competing at Ontario's Hamilton Golf and Country Club. In a field including the likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia, McDowell must finish in the top ten AND as one of the top three non-qualified players to earn his Open spot.
2. US Open (June 13-16)
If he was able to hand-pick a tournament and a venue at which to secure his place, we'd wager it would be in the US Open at Pebble Peach. It was here that McDowell set the golfing world alight nine years ago as he beat Frenchman Gregory Havret by a single shot to win his only major. The problem here is that G Mac must win the 2019 US Open to land a place at Royal Portrush.
3. Final Qualifying (July 2)
McDowell has confirmed that, if he goes into July still unsure of his spot, he will be playing at St Anne's Old Links in Lancashire on July 2. One of four Final Qualifying events, three Open Championship places are expected to be up for grabs at St Anne's, with 36 holes of strokeplay to determine the three recipients on the day.
4. Irish Open (July 4-7)
Unlike Rory McIlroy (let's not open that debate again), McDowell is playing in this year's Irish Open and, if he hasn't taken care of business beforehand, it will provide another opportunity. At Lahinch (County Clare), McDowell must finish in the top 10 AND as one of the top three non-exempt players.
5. Scottish Open (June 11-14)
In 2017 and 2018, McDowell went to Scotland in a final bid to secure a spot at the Open Championship. Both times he came up short but, if he's entering the last chance saloon this year, maybe it will be third time lucky. Similar to the Irish Open, he needs a top 10 finish combined with a spot as one of the top three non-qualified players.
So is that it?
Those are the events that McDowell has indicated he will be playing in. There are also three places to play for at the Andalucia Masters (June 27-30), but there is as yet no hint that the Portrush man will be visiting the tournament he won back in 2010.
Belfast Telegraph Digital