Sport Golf

Sunday 25 February 2018

I need to get back to basics, admits McDowell

Valerie Hassett (president, Irish Ladies Golf Union) pictured with (left) Gertie McMullen (The Island) winner of the Irish Senior Women’s Close Championship and Catherine Bird (Nenagh) winner of the Plate Final
Valerie Hassett (president, Irish Ladies Golf Union) pictured with (left) Gertie McMullen (The Island) winner of the Irish Senior Women’s Close Championship and Catherine Bird (Nenagh) winner of the Plate Final

Phil Casey

Graeme McDowell admitted he needs to “clear his mind” after his bid for a third successive Alstom Open de France title came to an ignominious early end.

McDowell was one of 42 players unable to complete their opening rounds on schedule at Le Golf National after thunderstorms on Thursday resulted in a delay of almost two-and-a-half hours.

The former US Open champion had just one hole remaining when play resumed at 7.30 local time yesterday and made par on the 18th to complete an opening 72 and lie just four shots off the lead.

However, after a short break McDowell was back out on the course which will stage the 2018 Ryder Cup and slumped to a second round of 78, his worst score in 32 rounds at the venue.

“I struggled to get on the fairway mainly and, as firm and as fast as this course is, if you’re not hitting the fairway you have a bit of a problem getting close to the flag,” said McDowell, whose sole top-10 finish on the European Tour this season came in the Dubai Desert Classic on February 1.


“It’s just a bad first nine both days. I rescued it coming in last night but it was a fast turnaround from a 9pm finish last night to an early start this morning and I just didn’t come out of the blocks this morning at all.

“It’s very disappointing, this course has been so good to me over the years, just not to be this year. It’s a work in progress, I’ll keep grinding and it’s a big summer ahead.”

McDowell, who missed the cut on eight-over par after a round containing two double-bogeys, three bogeys and no birdies, added: “I have a lot of technique in my head to be honest and I have to strip that out; I’ve got to get back to basics and try to clear the mind.

“I’ve been working too hard on trying to get the technique fixed and been making it worse. I know it’s in there; you take the rough with the smooth and it’s been a great three or four years. I will dig this out and I’ll be back.”

At the other end of the leaderboard, McDowell’s Ryder Cup partner Victor Dubuisson – the pair won both of their foursomes matches together at Gleneagles – shared the halfway lead with Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello on four-under par.

Home favourite Dubuisson held a two-shot lead when he followed a birdie on the fifth by holing his approach to the next from 107 yards for an eagle, but carded three bogeys and one birdie in the last 11 holes in a round of 70.

Former champion Kaymer, who missed the cut in defence of his US Open title at Chambers Bay, found water with his approach to the 15th to card a double-bogey, but recovered in style with his fourth birdie of the

I need to get back to basics, admits McDowellday on the 18th to return a second consecutive 69. Cabrera-Bello has finished fourth, 13th, second and 11th in his last four events, but bogeyed the 72nd hole in the Irish Open to miss out on a play-off and shot rounds of 74 and 71 after taking the halfway lead in Munich last week.

The 31-year-old said: “Obviously some things have been going wrong because my scoring during the first two days compared to Sunday is not quite the same.

“But I’m working on that, so I’m going to keep knocking on the door and one day, it will open.”

Like McDowell, it wasn’t a particularly successful couple of days for the other Irish competitors as Paul McGinley (seven-over) and Peter Lawrie (eight-over) both missed the cut as did Darren Clarke who followed up his opening round of 75 with a dispiriting 79.

The Irish eyes for the weekend will be focused on Damien McGrane (one-over) and Michael Hoey (three-over) who both made the cut although they may be too far back to seriously challenge.

Open de France,

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