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Monday, May 16, 2022

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – Graeme McDowell ‘the best field we’ve had here in 20 years’

At 37 years old, Graeme has played 15 opens since turning pro in 2002. A local lad born and raised on the North Coast this could be said to be a homecoming as much of his time is now spent in the US.

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell (credit: Causeway coast Community News)

Back in 2010 Graeme was on his best form to date winning the US open as well as having a number of other competition titles under his belt including the Ryder cup and a two winner of the French Open. As of yet he hasn’t managed to win the Irish open…but could this be his year?

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Recently his form has not been as good as it could have been and he hasn’t managed to play like he did in 2010/12 seasons.

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When asked yesterday what it was like to be home on the North Coast, Graeme said,

It’s been awfully busy the last few years having my own family. I haven’t had a chance to come back to the north coast much. Great to get an opportunity to come up and see my folks and family and friends, and obviously take part in what has become one of the premiere events in Europe again.

Portstewart is a golf course that I played a lot as a kid. We used to play a lot of our school’s matches here and stuff. I think one of my maths teachers actually designed the front nine about 30 years ago. So got a lot of good memories here, and like I say, just great to be back in the north coast and showcasing what we have up in this part of the world, and attracting the type of field that we have this week. This has to be the best field we’ve had at The Irish Open for 15 or 20 years, I would imagine.

Obviously I think we are going to get some good weather for the next few days, and the golf course is in great shape and my game feels right there. Dearly love to compete here this weekend and give it a rip on Sunday afternoon.

Graeme also opened up a little about family life back home when he visits.

I’m at my mom and dad’s house. My old room is still kind of in its former shape. My mom and dad have been living there, for, what, 17, 18 years. And like I say, my old bed’s still there. So I’m at home, and a bit of home cooking, and probably a couple pints of Guinness and too many rashers of bacon. Definitely a part of the season where I put on four or five pounds.

It’s great, listen, I have a lot of family to catch up with. I’ll have loads of support out there this week, and certainly very excited to be playing up here.

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On the topic of the tournament and the group pairings Graeme had much praise for his competitors and his lighter side showed throught leving the room in laughter.

Yeah, I have Tommy Fleetwood and Andy Sullivan. Obviously Tommy is one of the hottest players on the planet at the minute. I played with him early in the year in the last round at Bay Hill, actually, and he really impressed me a huge amount that day and he’s continued to play great ever since. Looking forward to playing with him.

Andy Sullivan is a great lad. I really, really enjoy playing with him. Those are two guys who are two potential Ryder Cuppers for next year. It’s tough to see past Tommy certainly being on the team. A few people have been Tweeting me wanting to a foursomes pairing of myself and Tommy, calling it Fleetwood Mac apparently (laughter). I just need to — I thought that was kind of cheesy, but it’s good. We like that, right.

I think Tommy is in good shape for that pairing. I just need to get myself on to it now. No, he’s a great kid and I’m looking forward to that pairing.

But on the serious issue of his golf as of late and this tournament Graeme certain of the way forward.

It’s been a frustrating year for kind of, sort of all the right reasons. It’s been frustrating because I’ve been playing well, and just really haven’t kind of had those big finishes which are the catalyst to kind of more confidence and more belief. That’s really the big piece of the puzzle that’s been missing for me a little bit is that belief and confidence.

I feel like I’m doing so many things right. I think I’m Top-10 in driving accuracy over in the U.S. this week and I feel like I’m back to putting nearly my best again. I’m doing a lot of things that sort of took me to one of the top players in the world around the 2010, 2012 mark. And like I say, frustrated that I can’t seem to sort of get up into contention on a Sunday afternoon where I feel like I want to be.

So this would be a great week to really kind of reignite things for me. Of course, getting into The Open, I think I might be less frustrated than my caddie would be. I think he’s caddied in the last 26 Opens in a row. So if he is to miss, he would be fairly disappointed in me.

But no, you know, listen, first and foremost is to try and compete this week. You know, to get one of those spots for The Open Championship would be kind of mission two, I suppose. If it doesn’t happen this week, I’ll go to Scotland next week and try to get in there.

If it doesn’t happen, of course I’ll be disappointed. I’ve been working hard, and like I say, I feel like myself and my team feel like we’re right there and we’re doing all the right things. It’s just kind of been a waiting game which has tested our patience so far this season. But we’ll keep chugging away.


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