Friday 21 October 2016

'Oakmont will be incredibly difficult and I relish that' - Graeme McDowell

Phil Casey

Published 13/06/2016 | 15:11

Graeme McDowell Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Graeme McDowell Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Graeme McDowell will hope to have inadvertently enjoyed the best of both worlds in his preparation for trying to win a second US Open title.

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McDowell was torn between contesting the FedEx St Jude Classic last week or getting to Oakmont early ahead of the year's second major championship.

In the end the 36-year-old opted to play in Memphis, but after missing the cut was also able to travel to Pittsburgh to reacquaint himself with Oakmont, where he finished in a tie for 30th in 2007.

"Olympic Club (in 2012) was my most recent good US Open performance and I missed the cut at Memphis and flew in early and enjoyed that little bit of extra homework," McDowell told Press Association Sport.

"The US Open is a particularly busy one with a lot of security. I remember Oakmont being a lot of autographs and that stuff and that can wear you out. It makes practice rounds difficult to get anything done because you're trying to do your bit and sign bits and pieces for people. Having that Saturday and Sunday when it's super quiet can be nice sometimes."

McDowell has missed the cut in the US Open in two of the last three years, but believes the traditional test provided by Oakmont will suit his game.

The Northern Irishman was level par in winning at Pebble Beach six years ago, while champion Martin Kaymer finished nine under at Pinehurst in 2014 and Jordan Spieth was five under at Chambers Bay 12 months ago.

"Form what I'm hearing with comments coming back from a few guys it sounds incredibly difficult and I like that, I do relish that challenge," McDowell added.

"I think I am more of a purist US Open guy. I've performed well on the pure US Open tests like Pebble Beach and Olympic Club and had it going at places like Winged Foot. I'm very much looking forward to this one and feel like I am taking some decent amount of game in there.

"One area I need to work on is my driving of the ball, I need to get a little bit of my fade back so I can brings those irons in a little softer to the greens.

"Apart from those two rounds at the K Club at the weekend (76 and 80 in the Irish Open) it's actually been a solid three weeks of striking and hanging in, hitting a lot of good shots. Take those two rounds out of play and I would be pretty happy with my three weeks' work.

"The memories are not as ripe in my brain as I'd like them to be, but there is no doubt going into the US Open it's always nice to be announced on the tee as the 2010 champion. That will never ever get old as long as I live.

"I actually tried to record it a few years ago and Kenny (Comboy, his caddie) tried to get it on his phone, but then lost his phone!

"Going to the US Open it's definitely nice to channel the old feelings again and of the four majors it's still the one I feel I have the best chance to win. I'd like to win another one before I'm done."

McDowell is currently not exempt for the Open Championship at Troon and is 15th in Ryder Cup qualifying, but is pinning his hopes on a busy stretch of golf this summer.

"I'm going to play six of the following seven weeks and that's my season right there," he added.

"It will be a big run, my wife's pretty heavily pregnant and spending five weeks away from her I'm not really looking forward to, but I've got to do it.

"I want to play on the Ryder Cup team very badly and that's going to be the key part of the season. The French Open has double (Ryder Cup) points, Scottish Open with a good field there are plenty of world ranking points and then into the Open which I'm not currently exempt for but I'm hoping to hang on to the top 20 in the FedEx points.

"They'll take the top five not already exempt and I should be in that top five and that's my way into the Open, fingers crossed."

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