Missed cut or claret jug? Graeme McDowell could go either way at British Open

  • Article by: STEVE DOUGLAS , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 16, 2013 - 12:40 PM

GULLANE, Scotland — If Graeme McDowell is hanging around Muirfield beyond Friday, the rest of the British Open field had better watch out.

The Northern Irishman has been consistently inconsistent since the Masters in April, missing five cuts and claiming three wins in his eight events. He's either back home from a tournament on a Saturday or raising a trophy on a Sunday.

So, which way is he leaning for the British Open?

"I think links-style golf is in my blood," McDowell said Tuesday, "and I always feel like I revert back well to it. I naturally and instinctively play well in the wind."

Given the long-range forecast, the wind may not be too much of a factor this week but the seventh-ranked McDowell clearly fancies his chances on Scotland's east coast.

He has just one top-10 finish in his nine Opens — that coming last year when he played in the final pair on the Sunday at Lytham but shot 75 to tie for fifth — but his recent wins at the French Open and the World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria have come on what he described as "linksy" courses.

And then there was a victory at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, standing tall on a wind-swept Sunday before outlasting Webb Simpson in a playoff.

McDowell grew up playing links golf at Royal Portrush, the home course of 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke, and feels right at home every time the — links-based world's oldest major comes around.

He labels Muirfield as a "tactician's golf course," something right up his alley.

"If I ever design a course, it will be a lot of different clubs off tees, and irons and woods, and something that kind of gets the brain working a little bit," he said. "This is certainly a game of chess this week."

Given all those missed cuts — six in 13 events in 2013 — no wonder McDowell described himself as "feeling fresh" and looking forward to a monthlong stint that will take in two majors plus a WGC event in Akron.

He will marry his fiancee, Kristin, in the Bahamas in September and he'll hope to have another major locked away by then, to add to his U.S. Open win in 2010.

"I haven't fed off my victories maybe the way I needed to the last few months," McDowell said, "(but) I think my season has not felt as inconsistent as perhaps it's read. Those missed cuts, if you look at them, I missed by one at Augusta, missed by a couple at Players, missed by one at the Irish (Open), missed by a couple at Wentworth (in the PGA Championship), missed by a couple of hundred at the U.S. Open.;;

And if you do see McDowell gazing into thin air during the opening two rounds at Muirfield, don't worry. He's probably admiring the swings of the two men he's playing alongside.

"I've played enough golf with Tiger Woods to know what to expect on Thursday and Friday. He's always a great guy to play with, very complimentary. He's the best player in the world and maybe the best player ever," McDowell said.

"Louis Oosthuizen (is) one of my very good friends," he added. "I tweeted early in the week that Tiger and Louis' golf swings are probably two of my favorite swings in the world. So that's never bad to play beside two guys with the rhythm and golf swings like they have."

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