One could ask where Graeme McDowell disappeared on Friday after emerging on Saturday and superbly finding his way back onto ‘Route 66’ for a second time in three days at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head in South Carolina.
McDowell was in the relaxing surrounds of the Harbor Town clubhouse nearly two hours ahead of the leaders teeing off on day three, and tucking into a well-earned lunch after leaping up 26 places on the leaderboard to finish the day in a tie for 30th.
The 2013 RBC Heritage champion had been among 71 players to have made the level par cut-off mark on day two, but with McDowell nose-diving in Friday’s brutal conditions and signing for a five-over-par 76, and five more than his opening round. He’d gone from five-under and back to level par. It was only the seventh occasion in 14 events on his 2021/22 PGA Tour wraparound season schedule McDowell’s guaranteed himself all four rounds.
It meant being out in the fourth group of the morning, and just prior to 8.30 am local time, but with McDowell taking full advantage of the calmer conditions and returning to five-under-par thanks to another bogey-free display as he had produced on Thursday in the $8m event.
As he’d done on Thursday, McDowell birdied the fifth and sixth holes, holing a 14-footer the second time around at the par-5 fifth and backed them out with a 21-footer for birdie on the par-4 sixth.
McDowell then birdied the ninth thanks to a nine-footer and after a run of five pars, he knocked in a 14-footer from behind the flag at the par-5 15th, and then, as he had done on day one, he also birdied the par-3 17th, and on this occasion seeing his 10-foot, and right of the cup, find the cup as a handful of spectators acknowledged.
He pared the last to enjoy the clubhouse lead before American Peter Malnati signed for a 65 and move to six-under. Shane Lowry went one better carding a 65 to move into second.