Graeme McDowell singled out the ‘power’ of social media in finally being reunited with the most talked about lost clubs in professional golf this week.
McDowell sent out an SOS for his missing clubs very early on Monday, soon after his arrival on an Air France flight into Manchester Airport.
And to cut a long story short, McDowell had to ‘pull the rip cord’, as his stated yesterday, on teeing-up in Tuesday’s 36-hole qualifier for next fortnight’s Open Championship.
Finally, and certainly after Air France was bombarded with a golf bag full of negative Tweets, McDowell’s missing tools of trade arrived into Dublin Airport at 10pm Tuesday night and were then couriered to his Ballyliffin hotel arriving at 3am this morning..
“I had to start making arrangements over here and putting a backup set of clubs together but thankfully the story had a happy ending,” he said.
“It was really the power of social media in the end. If it wasn’t for Twitter and the fact the story really gained a huge amount of momentum to where Air France’s PR department had to call me and say, listen, we have to sort this out for you, the clubs would still be in Paris somewhere.”
“Thankfully I was able to Tweet that out there, look for help and gain momentum and got it sorted out. It was a frustrating one. The Open qualifier, the impact on that is one I thing. There was no guarantee to go there yesterday and qualify, anyway. It wasn’t like it was a huge loss in the end.”
“But getting here, being prepared for The Irish Open, if the clubs would have started to impact my preparation for this weekend, then the problems would have been starting to mount up at that point.”
“I can safely say that I’m sitting here physically and mentally as ready to go for the Irish Open as I would be under any normal circumstances So, just very keen on putting this whole story behind me. I appreciate the support that I’ve had from everyone on Twitter and the media and really helping me kind of get ready for the Irish Open.”
Losing his clubs was somewhat of a final straw for McDowell having seen a goal of capturing a third French Open title week in Versailles sink in taking a closing hole ‘8’ on day two of the event.
And having been a pro now for some 16-years, McDowell’s ‘flipped the switch’ to be now 100% focussed on landing a first Irish Open title, and what would also be a seventh national ‘Open’ success.
“Once I kind of flipped that switch in my brain, I was able to start focussing on this weekend,” he said.
“My game is in good shape. I made 19 birdies at The French Open last week. Just made too many mistakes but I’m certainly playing good enough golf to compete any week at the minute.’
“I am certainly looking forward to a layout like this, which I think is a very tactical layout. It’s in great shape and you really have to position the ball well. So, I’m excited about the week and just keen to move on from all the distraction and get focused on trying to compete in this golf tournament.”
It turns out McDowell was not the only European Tour golfer leaving Paris last week to fall foul of Air France’s baggage handling, as Scotland’s David Drysdale clubs also went missing.
Drysdale’s caddying wife, Vicky was not as tame as McDowell in tearing into Air France in no less than seven tweets before his clubs turned-up at Ballyliffin on Tuesday afternoon.
Defending Irish Open champion, John Rahm is just as keen to celebrate becoming the first player in 21-years to successfully defend this Irish Open after Colin Montgomerie’s five-shot success in 1997 at Fota Island.
Rahm who, at No. 5, is the highest World Ranked player in this year’s field, sounded his obvious delight for Ballyliffin.
“It is one of the most spectacular golf courses I’ve ever played, truly. It’s absolutely stunning,” said the Spaniard.
“The views from the 14th tee and the 7th tee are probably some of the prettiest sights you’ll get in golf.”
“To me it doesn’t get any better than this with a pretty view on a links golf course to be honest. It’s really beautiful. It’s a tough test and not the easiest golf course. Last year we had a very similar golf course where it was a little more wet and slower and windier and rain and had a good week and I can shoot some low scores.”
And Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn will have much to talk about with the former and the present Ryder Cup captains grouped together for the opening two rounds of the Euro 6.011m event.
FULL IRISH TEE TIMES
8.20am – Graeme McDowell
8.30am – Padraig Harrington
9.20am – Cian McNamara, Simon Thornton
9.30am – Ruaidhri McGee
12.30pm – Cormac Sharvin
12.40pm – Neil O’Briain
12.50pm – Gavin Moynihan
1.10pm – Paul Dunne
1.20pm – Rory McIlroy
1.30pm – Shane Lowry
1.50pm – Darren Clarke
2.00pm – Paul McGinley, Colm Moriarty