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McDowell shows some encouraging form

GRAEME McDOWELL displayed some encouraging signs that he could put his current slump to rest thanks to an opening 66 in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Gullane yesterday.

Even three-putt bogeys on the last two holes could not dampen McDowell's enthusiasm for a welcome return to form in the week he slipped out of the world's top 50 for the first time in five years.

He was joined in a group on 66 - four-under par - by Shane Lowry, a man very much in form, with Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark the overnight leader after a superb 63.

McDowell's sole top-10 finish on the European Tour this season came in February and he missed the cut when bidding for a third successive French Open title last week, a second round of 78 being his worst score in 32 rounds at Le Golf National.

The 35-year-old revealed he and coach Pete Cowen had been examining videos of his swing from 2010, the year he won the US Open at Pebble Beach and holed the winning putt in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.

"I'm trying to get back to basics and we have narrowed my stance and used my body to swing the club how I used to," McDowell added.

"I feel as if in an attempt to improve some things in my technique, I've actually got worse.

"It was also nice to get back on a course that gives you a few opportunities in benign conditions. I just need a few low numbers to get my belief and confidence back and today will go a long way towards that."

Pádraig Harrington, winner of the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour last March, shot a two-under 68.

Damien McGrane was on one-under, Michael Hoey on level-par, and Paul McGinley left himself a mountain to climb after an opening 76.