Sport Golf

Sunday 11 December 2016

'G-Mac' and 'Wee Mac' stalking the leaders in Georgia and Dubai

William S Callahan

Published 21/11/2015 | 02:30

Graeme McDowell ended a two-year drought with a welcome victory in Mexico
last week
Graeme McDowell ended a two-year drought with a welcome victory in Mexico last week

Grame McDowell and Rory McIlroy, of 'G-Mac' and 'Wee Mac' fame, have set the scene for a fascinating weekend on both sides of the Atlantic.

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McDowell ended a two-year drought with a welcome, if unexpected, victory in Mexico last week and shot up the leaderboard of the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia.

The Portrush native and 2010 US Open champion dismissed any suggestion of weariness after his win in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba by shooting a four-under-par 68 on the Plantation Course for seven-under-par.

He goes into today's action on the adjoining Seaside Course just four shots off the pace set by leader Kevin Chappell (-11).

Just like in the first round, McDowell knows he could have done better.

He closed out his round with par on the eighth and ninth holes, his 17th and 18th, when putts of 14 and 12 feet finished close to the cup but failed to drop.

Meanwhile, McIlroy stayed on course to retain the Race to Dubai title for the third time in four years with a second successive 68 in the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah GC in Dubai.

He stretched his advantage over Danny Willett and Justin Rose, his nearest challengers in the overall standings, by two and one shot respectively.

McIlroy's sights are set on doing the double of Tour championship and R2D, but his ambitions are being hotly contested by a talented group of players.

England's Andy Sullivan, winner of three tournaments this season, got to 12-under-par with a 66 for the second day in a row, and had a one-shot advantage over second placed Emiliano Grillo of Argentina.

Sullivan is in a great place right now. He is relaxed and is supported by a group of 30 friends who boisterously cheer every birdie.

Grillo, who won the Web.Com Tour championship and then claimed a great win on the PGA Tour in the Frys.Com Open last month, played alongside McIlroy yesterday.

A best-of-the-day 64 showed Grillo's quality and the Northern Irishman was impressed.

"I shot three-under on the back nine and felt I was going backwards with the way Emiliano played it, but if I can keep doing what I'm doing, and give myself plenty of chances, I should be able to convert enough of them to be close going into Sunday.

"That's all I want, to give myself a chance," said McIlroy.

Yesterday's 68 was achieved in a different manner to Thursday's first round and with four shots separating him from leader Sullivan, McIlroy wants to up the pressure at the weekend.

"Considering where I am on the leaderboard, I'll take it.

"The back nine I felt like I played quite nicely and made a few birdies.

"I don't think I've taken advantage of the par-fives quite the way I would have liked to, but if I can do that over the next couple of days and keep giving myself plenty of chances, I should be close," said McIlroy.

Conversation

Grillo almost hit McIlroy with a golf ball during the Frys.Com Open, but it never came up in conversation yesterday.

"He had already come up to me in China at the Pro-Am party or something, and said, "I'm so sorry."

"I'm like, it's fine, no worries, it's not your fault. I said to him what I said to the media afterwards - I said I wasn't feeling great; probably might have got me off the course quicker," said McIlroy.

He may be at the top level of golf, but McIlroy appreciated Paul Dunne's performance in winning his European Tour card for 2016 at Q-School.

"Backing up his performance at The Open, and then having all these high expectations, to go into Tour School over six rounds and get it done and get a Tour card for next year is awfully impressive."

Shane Lowry needs to find some inspiration. He shot 70 yesterday and was tied for 50th on 145, one-over-par for the tournament.

DP World Tour Championship

Live, Sky Sports 4, 8.0 a.m

RSM Classic

Live, Sky Sports 4, 6.0 pm

Irish Independent

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