Graeme McDowell fears his chances may have gone despite producing a typically grinding performance on day 3 of the 148th Open.
The Rathmore golfer commenced his third round with the then loudest cheer on the first tee and four hours later he had the 18th hole grandstand roaring with delight when rolling in a virtual tap-in putt for his second straight birdie ‘3’ in a score of 68 at Royal Portrush.
“It was a fun morning generally from the word go this morning,” said McDowell. “They were ten deep down the first and second fairways. It was incredible.
“Obviously without Rory and Darren here people really focused on me this morning. And alongside Bubba Watson, of course, we pulled a huge crowd. It was an amazing atmosphere.
“It was fun to have that Saturday looseness and kind of aggressiveness going on, but to be able to feed off this amazing crowd and to be able to enjoy it, frankly. It didn’t have that Thursday, Friday tightness to it, that three shots off the lead tightness. I was relaxed and enjoying it and really taking it all in.”
G Mac teed-up alongside double Masters winning Bubba Watson in the third group of the morning at 9.55am local time having posted earlier scores of 73 and 70 to make the cut right on the one-over cut-off mark.
He kick-started his round is superb manner holing a testy birdie putt at the par-5 second hole despite finding the left rough with his tee shot.
McDowell then produced three straight pars before dropping a shot at the uphill par-3 sixth hole. A call of ‘Fore Left’ soon followed off the par-5 seventh tee with his errant drive quickly having spectators protecting themselves.
With no spectator hit or injured, McDowell pushed on to save par before picking-up birdie at 11 and 12 and finding another at the last of the par-5s at the 12th for a second day running.
Unfortunately for a second day in succession, McDowell’s momentum was stunted when he bogeyed the uphill par-4 15th before then sending up the loudest cheers of the third day with birdies on the closing two holes.
With McDowell in the clubhouse at minus-two and currently in a tie for 35th, he fears with the wind easing as the afternoon goes on, that despite his efforts, the mountain now may be too much to climb.
“I think I’m too far back,” McDowell admitted. “Like I said, I feel like the wind is dropping right now. I feel like we’re going to end up having the toughest part of the day. I made the most of what I had in front of me, and that’s all you can do. How far is too far back? Really depends.
“I haven’t had a good look at the forecast tomorrow. I thought it was going to be stronger winds. It really depends. It depends how far away the leaders get this afternoon, if anyone gets to double digits.
“Me sitting at 2. You’ve got to imagine I’m going to need five tomorrow to have a chance to get to seven or eight, and that’s if it’s really difficult out there. Potentially too much back, unfortunately. But we’ll see. We’ll see.”
Full Scoring HERE