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Ireland’s best struggle on West Coast Swing

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For a nation where its golfers have honed their games on some of the world’s great seaside gems, the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing has done Ireland’s top male golfers little favour.

With just this week’s Genesis Open in Santa Monica remaining before crossing the Continent for the commencement of the Florida Swing, the best in the west is Seamus Power.

The West Waterford golfer was the lone Irishman competing at the Career Builder Challenge, and the opening event of the ‘Swing’ in Palm Springs, and despite some errant weekend driving the 30-year old grabbed a share of 11th. It is the best result in 31 West Coast Swing rounds of the five Irish.

Rory McIlroy travelled from two courses close to the shores of the Persian Gulf, finishing third in Abu Dhabi and then runner-up in Dubai. But in traveling to Pebble Beach for a second time in his career, the first being in 2010 for the U.S. Open, McIlroy missed the cut as he had done eight years ago and in the process paid the price as he dropped two spots to World No. 10.

McIlroy had posted 34 putts on day one of his first event of 2018 in Abu Dhabi but you could put that down to some off-season ‘rust’. But with eight rounds under his belt, rust could not be blamed this time with McIlroy struggling at Pebble Beach and averaging 30 putts over the three rounds.

McIlroy then drew headlines for all the wrong reasons on day two when he recorded a five-putt double-bogey at his 14th along with three over three-putts for second round total of 38 putts.

In contrast, new AT & T Pebble Beach winner Ted Potter Jnr averaged 26.75 putts per round.

“I just let the greens at Monterey get into my head a little bit and it was hard to get out of that mindset playing Pebble on Saturday,” McIlroy said. “But then it is nothing a bit of work over the next few days won’t fix in getting myself ready for Riviera.”

Shane Lowry has contested three of the five ‘West Coast Swing’ events and made the cut in two but it’s been a frustrating three events in his new surrounds, being now based Stateside.

Unlike McIlroy, Lowry’s frustrations lay with the longest club in his bag averaging just 53% of fairways hit over his three events – Torrey Pines, Phoenix and Pebble Beach.

“I am hitting good shots and I’m giving my chances but the moment I get out of position I am struggling and making bogey,” Lowry said.

Padraig Harrington’s pair of missed cuts continues a miserable start to a New Year and he missed his first three cuts a year ago too but then he was also struggling with a shoulder injury that would be attended to in March.

But at the start of 2015 a fully-fit Harrington missed his first three PGA cuts of the New Year and all West Coast Swing events as well, but two events later that year he captured a second Honda Classic crown in Florida.  Here’s hoping.

British Masters champ Paul Dunne returned to Pebble Beach with a real spring in his step two years on from a first Pebble Beach invitation but after again missing the cut he crossing ‘The Pond’ when unheralded Ted Potter Jnr won the event by three shots.

And Graeme McDowell’s wretched start to the New Year continues in posting 71, 80 and 74 to make it three missed cuts in succession.

It has seen McDowell drop to World No. 219, his poorest ranking since a week prior capturing the 2004 Italian Open. McDowell spoke on the eve of the event of his fond memories in winning the 2010 U.S. Open and celebrating into the early hours of the morning at Brophy’s Irish Tavern in the heart of nearby Carmel.

“It was all a blur, I don’t really remember much about the night to be honest with you,” he said. During that night in June, 2010 McDowell signed a wall mural of Pebble’s famed downhill par-3 seventh hole. He wrote:  “Love you.  Graeme McDowell.  2010 U.S. Open Champion.”

McDowell returned four years later partnering his father, Kenny in the 2014 AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and resigned the mural:  “A much more sober, Graeme McDowell.  2014 AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am”. If McDowell had visited Brophy’s last week, the bar is under new management and also has been remodelled. Sadly, there is nothing golf-related remaining, including G Mac’s comments.

RESULTS OF THE IRISH ON THE PGA TOUR WITH ONE EVENT OF THE ‘WEST SWING’ TO PLAY.

Rory McIlroy

Missed cut – AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Shane Lowry 

Missed cut – Farmers Insurance Open

T65th – Phoenix Open

T43rd – AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Padraig Harrington

Missed cut – Farmers Insurance Open

Missed cut – AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Paul Dunne 

Missed cut – AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Graeme McDowell 

Missed cut – AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Seamus Power 

T11th – Career Builder Challenge

Missed cut – AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

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