McDowell’s Tees-Up At Shinnecock Happy To Have Shaken Off The Asterisk Beside His Name.

Shinnecock Hills, NY ….

Graeme McDowell says he tees-up in this week’s U.S. Open happy to have shaken off the asterisk appearing against his name.

McDowell’s one of 10 players, and including the likes of Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, who sit atop of the 2018 U.S. Open leading exemption list in having earned a 10-year pass in winning a U.S. Open.

Indeed, Woods’ exemption expires this year while McDowell’s will run out in 2020 at Winged Foot and unless the Ulsterman gets himself back inside the world’s top-50.

And while excited to be returning to a U.S. Open, McDowell carries the added pressure of currently not being exempt into next month’s Open Championship, and currently ranked World No. 172, means he’s also not into the PGA Championship.

Helping ease the 38-year old’s on-course anxiety was a 12th in the BMW PGA and then fifth a week later in Italy.

“The two weeks in Europe lifted all the weight off my shoulders, so I will be going back there having a little bit of freedom in my step,” he said.

“The Ryder Cup vice-captaincy appointment helped that a little bit, not chasing the FedEx Cup 125 over here, had this little monkey on my shoulder the last few months.

“I’d been playing well and he starts talking, nibbling in my ear at the weekends, ‘hey you can do with a big finish this week so we don’t have to worry’, it was amazing I went back to Europe and I didn’t have that and was able to free up and play well.

“But then I’m not exempt into The Open and I may have to miss the Scottish Open and return here to the States to play Reno.

“So, the asterisk is off, it is not the end of the world.

“I am not holding a gun to my head, because I am not that kind of guy. I am not like that. I will hold a gun to my head on the back nine on a Sunday. I like that kind of gun, but big picture gun to my head is not something that I like very much.”

Two years after winning on Father’s Day in 2010 McDowell went close to wining a second U.S. Open on the outskirts of San Francisco but since then his best result was T18th in 2016 at Oakmont while he’s also missed three of five U.S. Open cuts.

“I would like to get into position to let the gene flow,” he said.

“This week is going to suit a great iron player, someone like Tiger can get it onto the fairway he is going to compete because of his iron play, it is tough off the tee, hit driver well.

“Rors (McIlroy) will feel comfortable up here, he’s spent a lot of time up here.

“What the course is doing is taking the big weapons out of the hands of the guys where the driver is a weapon.

“For Rory the driver is a weapon as well as Brooks (Koepka) and Dustin (Johnson), so they are not going to have that weapon this week and from a strategy point of view it is pure iron play.”

If there is any disappointment for McDowell it is the vast width of the Shinnecock fairways.

“I am disappointed how wide these fairways are, but it is a way bigger piece of land than I was expecting,” he said.

“I was expecting Hamptons to be like Monterey peninsula where every real estate was a prisoner but I think the golf course is class”.

McDowell will tee-up at 6.35pm Irish time later today (WED) in the company of fellow former U.S. Open winners Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson.


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