THE TESTING NATURE of the Muirfield course means Graeme McDowell will be forced to make countless recovery shots at The Open over the next few days. However, no rearguard action could be as impressive as the one the Northern Irishman fought at his briefing with the press.
McDowell took his place at the main table in Muirfield’s temporary media centre and spent the first five minutes of his briefing placating local [Scottish] journalists over comments he made about their national open.
Having won the French Open two weeks ago, McDowell stated he would not be going to Castle Stuart to compete in the Scottish equivalent. The lack of a world-class field was cited, with tournament winner Phil Mickelson the only member of the world’s top 20 golfers to compete.
McDowell explained, “My comments were certainly construed a lot more negatively than I was trying to — what I was trying to say, really. I was talking more about schedule and strengthening the important parts of our schedule in and around Wentworth and around The Open Championship.
“Unfortunately, [I] managed to single out the Scottish Open as a weakened field in the last three or four years, and kind of inadvertently criticized Castle Stuart as a venue. It wasn’t really my intention.” The world number seven confirmed that he called the event’s organisers to apologise.
McDowell celebrates his French Open win at Guyancourt a mere 10 days ago. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Penance paid, the 2010 US Open champion turned his thoughts to adding another Major to his impressive list of career wins. Tournament victories, he says, on Links-style courses in Bulgaria and France puts him in good stead for a tilt at the famous Claret Jug.
McDowell commented, “Growing up on a links golf course, if I was to say which one of the four Major championships, if I was to win one, you know, again, what would my best chance come, it would certainly come at a U.S. Open or British Open.” He added:
I think the links style golf is in my blood and I always feel like I revert back well to it. I’m naturally and instinctually can play well in the wind. The short game I have a fairly good instinct for the short game, and I’m say very good pace putter, the things I’ve learned growing up, I suppose.”
The golfer’s three tournament wins this season have been accompanied by missing cuts at the BMW PGA Championship [May] and Irish Open at Carton House [June]. With McDowell’s hectic schedule including the Canadian Open, Firestone and USPGA championships, he was asked if he was purposely missing cuts to stay fresh.
“That’s it,” he remarked with a grin and a steely glare.