Friday 23 March 2018

G-Mac considers European return

Bernie McGuire, in Akron, Ohio

WITH Rory McIlroy poised to take up his PGA Tour card next year, it is believed former US Open champion Graeme McDowell is strongly considering returning to play full-time on the European Tour in 2012.

McDowell has struggled in the States this year, missing the halfway cut in four of 11 FedEx Cup counting events.

And after posting five bogeys and just three birdies on day two for a 72 and a three-over-par tally at the WGC- Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio, McDowell could very well be teeing up at Firestone next year as a non-PGA Tour member.

"I want to see how the Ryder Cup qualifying format works and I've had time to reflect and see how I feel and next year is a Ryder Cup year, so I will see if I'm playing here or not next year," he said. "I'm not saying I'm definitely not going to play on the PGA Tour. At this point, my schedule hasn't changed as I want to play the FedEx, and we'll see how that goes."

Four players, Australia's Adam Scott (70) and the American trio of Rickie Fowler (64), Ryan Moore (66) and Keegan Bradley (75) head the event on eight-under-par. Sweden's Robert Karlsson (65) and newly married Scot Martin Laird (67) are the best placed Europeans and just one off the lead.

Tiger Woods' return to competition continued on track with the former World No 1 sharing 36th place at one-under-par after solid rounds of 68 and 71.

With McDowell trailing 11 strokes in arrears, he is now thinking of next week's US PGA Championship in Atlanta. "I drove the ball well today, which was my weakness yesterday, so it was the opposite today," he said. "It's a golf course where you can go low and where you can be aggressive with your irons, but you have to drive it well and you can make a score as Adam (Scott) showed in shooting a 62 yesterday.

"But it's hard now not to be thinking about next week. The PGA was in the back on my mind at the start of the week and now it's in the forefront. These last two days are about competitive practice for the US PGA.


"But I have to work first and foremost on my attitude a little bit, and get my head around playing the golf course correctly."

Reigning US Open champion McIlroy birdied the 17th in a second straight 68 to be at four-under-par, but uncharacteristically called on the services of his caddy JP Fitzgerald to read a handful of putts.

"There was nothing dropping for me until that nice putt on 17," he said. "I'm hitting good putts and maybe it's just a little bit of speed or maybe I'm just not reading the right line. That's why I got JP to read a few and that helped a little bit. It is really frustrating, but then I am only four off the lead."

Padraig Harrington capped his round of 70 with four birdies in a six-hole run mid-round before bogeys at 14 and 16 soured his second-round effort.

"I holed some putts and putted well all the way through, so I was happy with that," said Harrington, who had 27 putts.

"But it is what it is. I can't tell you any different. What can I say? I could improve a little bit in all departments. If I was getting my school report it would say, 'good but could do better'. I have a couple more rounds to go to get ready for next week."

And British Open champion Darren Clarke was hopeful of finding his Royal St George's winning form over the weekend in the 'no cut' Akron event. Clarke remained at the tail of the field after a second-round 74 for an 11-over-par tally.

"I played poorly and got stuck underneath the ball the whole time," he said. "I will try and figure it out over the next two days. I got way underneath it again and had no ball flight, no nothing."

WGC Bridgestone Invitational,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 3.0

Irish Independent

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