Saturday 25 January 2020

G-Mac heads for Masters on low note

Karl MacGinty in Augusta

NO prizes for guessing where Graeme McDowell would rather have been yesterday.

Was it up at Augusta National playing a casual Sunday afternoon practice round with Tiger Woods and the other early arrivals for this week's US Masters?

Or slogging his way to a final round 77 at the Shell Houston Open, which cannot have done much to boost the Portrush man's as he heads into the first Major Championship of the season?

McDowell said "I am pleased I came here to Houston." However, he admitted that a tough weekend for him at Redstone "didn't turn into the (Masters) preparation I was hoping for."

It served as perfect preparation for Hunter Mahan, 29, who clinched his fifth PGA Tour victory by one stroke from Carl Pettersson courtesy of the closing 71 which lifted him to 16-under. Louis Oosthuizen finished third after a final round 75, while a 74 dropped Londoner Brian Davis into a tie for fourth on 12-under with Phil Mickelson (71), Keegan Bradley (71) and Jeff Overton (68).

McDowell, who finished second to Tiger at Bay Hill last week, struggled as the course dried out after the maelstrom which severely disrupted Thursday's first round.

"The golf course just changed big time," explained the Ulsterman, who finished in a share of 63rd on one-over. "It went from being a course I thought I could score on to one which became a real slog.

"I had the wind sucked from my sails yesterday early on Saturday and then, after shooting 73 in the third round, I was just very much and at that point I was just very much trying to get to Augusta.

"I'm still hitting a lot of high quality shots but just didn't have it in and around the greens," added the 2010 US Open champ, who took 65 putts in his final 36-holes.

Darren Clarke missed the halfway cut on one-under, while a third round 74 left Padraig Harrington outside the 70-man watershed imposed on Saturday evening at PGA Tour events if more than 78 make it through 36-holes.

Irish Independent

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