McDowell now looks to Pebble return & Portrush tee time

Bernie McGuire
Bernie McGuire

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Graeme McDowell, after just his first event of the new season, is already looking forward to returning to Pebble Beach in June and is confident of teeing-up in July’s Open Championship on his beloved Royal Portrush.

McDowell opened his 2019 season with a gutsy share of 18th place in the torrential rain, strong winds and fourth round hail-affected AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He had posted scores of 68 (Pebble Beach), 70 (Monterey Peninsula), 70 (Spyglass Hills) and then managed three birdies and a bogey in a closing round 71 at Pebble Beach for an eventual eight-under par tally.

It was GMac’s first tournament since injuring his left wrist while hitting balls over the new year in what will be the first of two appearances this year on the famed Pebble Beach course.

In June, it will be nine years since McDowell celebrated Father’s Day lifting the gleaming U.S. Open trophy.

“It’s been some week given the weather we’ve had including hail that lashed the course today, so we’ve had everything thrown at us this week,” he said. “Hopefully, when we come back here in June the weather will be a little kinder and the golf course a lot firmer under foot.”

“Overall, I was pleased with my week considering I managed to play all four rounds after a long lay-off. My wrist was okay and the good news is now I have a week off to give it some rest before heading to the Puerto Rico Open.”

“I played the event a couple of years ago back in ’17 so I’ll be looking to do a little better this time around and play all four days.”

The Pebble Beach effort was McDowell’s best finish in a regular Tour event since a T17th in last July’s RBC Canadian Open and while looking to make the most of continuing sponsor invitations, McDowell’s huge goal is to be in the field to tee-up in July’s return of The Open to Royal Portrush, a golf course he knows better than the back of his hand.

However, at this early stage of the season McDowell is only exempt into June’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach where he won in 2010 and to then be in the field to tee-up at his beloved Royal Portrush on July 18th is a massive goal.

“With the Open Championship being at Portrush that is a huge goal of mine and while I’m not yet exempt, there is a lot of ways I can get into the event,” he said.

“The bottom line is I have to do well between now and the but I so want to be there.”

In contrast, Shane Lowry’s first PGA Tour event in some six months ended in the same manner at last August’s Wyndham Championship and that was missing the cut.

Lowry arrived in the States clearly buoyed by his Abu Dhabi success but the Offaly golfer struggled on the Californian West Coast with scores of 70, 77 and 67 which will unfortunately see Lowry drop down the World Rankings.

He rose to 41st in winning in Abu Dhabi but dropped three spots in not contesting last week’s Saudi International and is now projected to slip to 46th once the AT&T Pro-Am concludes later this afternoon (Irish time – Monday)

His next event will be next week’s February 21st commencing WGC – Mexico Championship and it will be Lowry’s first appearance in Mexico City since the event changed names and location in 2017.

Meantime, Rory McIlroy returns to competition this week and the Genesis Open in suburban L.A. McIlroy says he’s a huge fan of the Riviera course despite posting a pair of T20ths on his debut in 2016 and then again last year and he will tee-up coming off a two top-5s in his two events of 2019.

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