Sunday 22 October 2017

Erin Hills not all about the bombers, insists McDowell

Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty
Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty

Brian Keogh

Erin Hills might look like a bomber's paradise but Graeme McDowell insists that his true grit and talent for tactics could pay dividends as he seeks his second US Open triumph this week.

The 37-year-old has suffered an alarming slide down the world rankings since he reached a career high of fourth in March 2011. But don't let his lowly 89th place in the pecking order fool you.

The Antrim man is more driven than ever to get back where he believes he belongs.

And he's convinced that golfing intelligence and mental strength can trump power this week, even if the course does measure 7,741 yards.

"It is still there," the 2010 US Open said of his trademark tenacity. "To be gritty, to be confident under pressure requires a lot of belief in yourself.

"I have done a lot of work in a lot of areas to try and get that back again, to be able to believe in yourself when the chips are down.

"I feel like I have put myself into position the last couple of months and haven't quite believed in myself enough; I'm recognising that and addressing it.

"I have felt a lot better the last few weeks and coming into a week like this where I have memories from seven years ago fresh in my mind, you get that little bit of inspiration, coming back to a tournament you've won, especially one this big.

"I don't think this golf course is out of my league from a length point of view at all. I think there is enough to this week for a chance like me to be able to compete with some of these longer hitters.

"I feel like I have played some pretty good stuff and just haven't had that X-factor which is putting 72 holes together on a given week, it is just been about trying to stay patient.

"I have got into some weekends and perhaps got a little tighter because I haven't been in that position for a little while, maybe wanting it a bit too much perhaps."

Erin Hills does not look like a course that would play into McDowell's hands.

But he knows that the USGA will try to sow confusion in the players' minds by pushing up tees here and there, adding tactics to the mix and giving the long hitters food for thought.

Unsure whether the winning score will be close to level par or deep in the red, McDowell calls the Wisconsin monster - the second longest course in US Open history - "a bit of an unknown quantity".

Strategy

"Yes, you look at it and you initially assume long length, bombers; but there is a lot of strategy involved still, there are so many teeing options it is going to be interesting to see what the USGA does," he said.

"There is a lot of tactics still involved, it is not just a bombs away."

McDowell hasn't given up hope of winning another Major.

"I'd feel different about it," he said. "Maybe it came to me in 2010 a little earlier than I expected but there is no doubt I had a dream, and I believed that I had the game to win a Major championship.

"You could say that dream is starting to form again. I'm working hard, stay patient and I would love to win another one before I am done."

Irish Independent

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