Saturday 25 May 2019

Road to Portrush can open up for McDowell in Scotland


Graeme McDowell. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images
Graeme McDowell. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Graeme McDowell wants to play in The Open at Carnoustie but he can also take his first step towards making sure he's a starter at Royal Portrush next year with a big performance in the Scottish Open at Gullane.

The 2010 US Open champion believes that he can get the best of out his game by using qualification for The Open to spur him on in what he admits is his Last Chance Saloon.

"I think I can use it as inspiration," 2008 Scottish Open winner McDowell said after failing to win his place in Carnoustie via last week's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. "Talking about that carefree kind of golf that I need to tap into, I've been able to do it better in Europe than the US. [This week] is a perfect example of having nothing to lose at all. I just have to tap into the mindset because I feel like I am in a decent frame of mind."

Even if he doesn't claim one of three spots at Carnoustie for the non-exempt players finishing in the top 10, the world 179 knows a big week is what he needs as he bids to get claw his way back into the world's top 50.

Tickets for the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush went on sale this week and with 20 per cent of them snapped up within 48 hours, McDowell knows he has to start moving up the rankings soon if he's to tee it up in his home town there as a player.

Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Paul Dunne complete the Irish challenge at Gullane where 17 of the world's top 50 are in action, including Justin Rose, Masters champion Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and recently-crowned Dubai Duty Free Irish Open champion Russell Knox.

The Scot is still reeling from his exertions at Ballyliffin, where he holed a 45-footer on the 18th to force a play-off with Kiwi Ryan Fox and then made an almost identical putt to win in sudden death. "The main goal this week, and also next week, is just to enjoy my time here and if I can replicate any kind of form the last few weeks, it will be a huge bonus," Knox said. Like McDowell, he'd like to put himself in the frame for a Ryder Cup appearance in Paris and believes that pressure brings out the best in him.

"I need to somehow pump myself up for those big moments, and fortunately I've got a couple stacked in the memory books that I can rely on when I need to," he said.

On the PGA Tour, Seamus Power will be chasing one spot in The Open at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run, while on the Challenge Tour, Gavin Moynihan, Stephen Grant, Paul McBride, Ruaidhri McGee, Gary Hurley, Cormac Sharvin, Michael Hoey and Dermot McElroy tee it up in the Italian Challenge at Is Molas in Sardinia.

Paul McGinley, Des Smyth, Brendan McGovern, Eamonn Darcy and Philip Walton tee it up tomorrow in the WINSTONgolf Senior Open in Germany as Stephanie Meadow and twins Lisa and Leona Maguire play the Symetra Tour's Donald Ross Classic in Indiana.

Scottish Open

Live, Sky Sports, 10.30am

John Deere Classic

Live, Sky Sports Golf, 9.0pm

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Leinster's succession plan, Munster's missing piece and the art of contract negotiations

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport