Impressive McDowell hanging tough after 'brutal test'
GRAEME McDOWELL is the sort of guy any soldier would like to have hunkered down beside him in a foxhole. The tougher the challenge, the more this 32-year-old Ulsterman seems to relish it.
So it came as no surprise to see McDowell emerge from the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach as last man standing and with the gleaming silver trophy in his grasp.
In McDowell's estimation, the Lake Course at the Olympic Club does not offer as varied a strategic challenge as Pebble Beach -- but it's definitely more rigorous in the demands it will place on the US Open title-contenders this weekend.
So even though the Portrush grinder dropped three shots over the final four holes of his second round as playing conditions grew ever tougher through a day of warm, glaring sunshine, McDowell is one man upon whom his rivals definitely will keep a close eye.
McDowell's ever-steady playing companion yesterday Jim Furyk, winner of this championship at Olympia Fields in 2003, burrowed his way into the early clubhouse lead on one-under par with a superb 69.
That sterling effort still left the 42-year-old American three shy of overnight leader Michael Thompson but the second year PGA Tour professional saw that lead evaporate early in the ever-toughening conditions.
McDowell was two shots behind Furyk at the end of his second round but had shown such a cool, deft touch under pressure for much of a difficult day, he'll not give up the quest for a second Major title without a fight.
The most impressive feature of G-Mac's performance yesterday was not so much the four birdies he made, but several clutch putts he sank for par to maintain his momentum in the early stages of the round.
"My days was as equally enjoyable as yesterday," said McDowell, referring to the sparkling 69 he'd shot on Thursday. "It's just tough to have fun out there, I've got to be honest with you. It's just a brutal test of golf.
"The greens were noticeably more receptive this morning than yesterday afternoon. But as we finished today they were really starting to bake out, get firm again.
"I played the golf course what I figured is the more difficult way around today starting on nine and finishing off on those front eight there which are a pretty stout test of golf."
Though "disappointed" to bogey three of the last four, McDowell went on: "I hit a decent shot into five and missed it on the short side. At six, I hit a great shot and missed the putt there, while at eight I got a shooter through the back and had a tough up-and-down.
"But that's what this golf course can do to you in a heart-beat; and if you had offered me one-over par starting on the first tee yesterday having seen what I saw yesterday morning, I would have probably snapped your arm off for it."