Despite being battered and bruised by Bethpage Park, Graeme McDowell returns in a month to Pebble Beach for the 2019 US Open buoyed by his four-round showing in the PGA Championship.
McDowell ended his first Major of the year with four birdies and four bogeys for a final day 70 and a top-30 finish at five-over par on the ultra-tough Black course on New York’s Long Island.
‘G Mac’ had birdied three of his opening five holes before the Black course jumped-up to bite him on the inward half.
“My game feels good, it really does,” he said.
“All I was trying to do was not get too destroyed by this golf course. Obviously going out there, 17 behind a guy who is making it look awfully easy; this is not a golf course that I would pick for me in a major championship and Pebble Beach is a golf course that I would pick for me.
“I’ve got Colonial next week which going to feel like a pitch-and-putt by comparison, the Canadian Open. I have some great stuff ahead of me. I’m feeling a bit bruised and battered but I have to say, the game is okay and looking forward to the next few weeks.”
As indicated, McDowell is headed to this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at the famed Colonial Club in Fort Worth, Texas along with the following week’s RBC Canadian Open in Hamilton before making his way to California for the June 13th starting US Open at Pebble Beach.
The Ulsterman has returned on just three occasions to Pebble Beach since his emotional 2010 Father’s Day triumph in becoming the very first Irishman to capture a U.S. Open while next month marks the first occasion the U.S. Open is returning to the stunning course laid out along the Pacific Ocean near Carmel.
Nine years ago, McDowell came from three shots adrift of third round leader Dustin Johnson to win by a shot courtesy of a final day 74 and also ended the week as the only player in the field to get back to level par over the four rounds.
“I went back to Pebble in 2014 when my Dad partnered me in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and then I returned last year to play and I started this season here back in February this year,” he said.
“People might be surprised I’ve only been back to Pebble three times since my U.S. Open win but I’ve been starting my year on the European Tour in the Middle East Swing so I typically have not played much in the PGA Tour West Coast events.
“But then in saying that I have probably won a third of my winnings on the PGA Tour ‘West Coast Swing’, so I don’t know why I haven’t been back more often.
“It’s just to know I am part of the legend of such a place as a Pebble Beach U.S. Open, and to also be part the lore of Pebble Beach is the stuff that has me pinching myself.
“There’s not a day that would have passed since Father’s Day 2010 that I wouldn’t think to myself that I won a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and say ‘how cool is that?’
“You don’t appreciate it at the time but coming back to a U.S. Open year-after-year as I have, and you get a little older and you get a bit more retrospective, I feel is it cool to be part of the Pebble Beach lore.”
McDowell is exempt into the U.S. Open up to and including 2020 but much interest still focuses on the Portrush native becoming exempt for the July 18th commencing Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
He will be returning home for The Open whether or not he qualifies, however, as he’s accepted an invitation from the Association of Golf Writers (AGW) annual dinner where he will be honoured with the Arnold Palmer ‘Open’ award, an award reflecting his relationship with the media.
Indeed, McDowell will be the third Irish golfer behind Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy to receive the award since its inception in 2013.
Also to be honoured at the AGWs dinner is renowned long-time Royal Portrush Secretary, Wilma Erskine.
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