Family joy adds extra incentive for G-Mac
Graeme McDowell has had a fruitless year in terms of victories but he appears to have refocused on his career after experiencing family joy and golfing agony in quick succession.
The Florida-based Northern Irishman played his first event on European soil since July when he finished tied 15th at last week's Dunhill Links in Scotland and is on course to do even better in the British Masters at The Grove.
"I really feel as if I've turned the corner in the last three or four months," said McDowell after birdies at his last two holes yesterday gave him a three-under-par 68 and a challenging six-under aggregate of 136, five shots behind halfway leader Richard Bland of England. "A big part of the summer for me was having our second baby and having my family life start to stabilise."
McDowell picked up five birdies but it was a par at the 17th, his eighth hole, that was a key to his second round. "My drive caught the edge of a bunker and I was plugged under the lip," he said. "That was really big. Sometimes in a round it's all about momentum," added McDowell who eventually escaped with a four after sinking a 20-foot putt on the green.
Paul McGinley (67) also stayed in contention on five-under as Andrew 'Beef' Johnston delighted the home fans with a buccaneering eight-birdie 65 to surge within one stroke of Bland (64). His 10-under tally earned a share of second with Swede Alex Noren (65).
Shane Lowry is also well placed for a charge; he's four-under after his 70. Michael Hoey's level-par 71 wasn't enough to lift him over the cut line, with a four-over 75 on Thursday doing too much damage.
Tournament host Luke Donald also missed out. "The course is in fantastic condition, you should have no excuse," said Donald. "Unfortunately I'll be watching over the weekend and not playing."
Elsewhere, Seamus Power was targeting a sub-70 round last night to make the cut on his PGA Tour debut in the Safeway Open. The Waterford player, among the later second-round starters, carded a one-over 73 on Thursday.
Live, Sky Sports 4, 11.30am
Safeway Open, Live, Sports 4, 10.0pm