McDowell, Muirfield a match made in golf heaven

Graeme McDowell smiles as he lines up a putt during a practice round ahead of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield.

GULLANE, Scotland –- Graeme McDowell is a 25-to-1 shot to win the Open Championship at Muirfield. Maybe the bookmakers feel McDowell is ready to break the pattern of his season.

The Northern Irishman is enjoying one of the best years of his career with three wins. Those victories came in an eight-week period. Unfortunately, he also missed five cuts in that stretch. Whenever McDowell’s won, he’s followed it with a missed cut his next time out.

This boom-or-bust pattern would seem to suggest the 2010 U.S. Open champion has no chance this week. McDowell won the French Open on his last appearance.

“I haven’t fed off my victories maybe the way I needed to the last few months,” McDowell said.

The good news is, he hasn’t missed by much when he has failed to make the weekend.

“My season hasn’t felt as inconsistent as perhaps it’s read. Those missed cuts, if you look at them, I missed by one at Augusta, missed by a couple at the Players, missed by one at the Irish, missed by a couple at Wentworth (the BMW PGA Championship) and missed by a couple of hundred at the U.S. Open.”

McDowell entered the U.S. Open at Merion as one of the favorites, yet shot rounds of 76 and 77 to take an early flight out of Philadelphia.

“I went through a period of four or five weeks around the U.S. Open where I was a bit under-golfed, actually. I’m going into the U.S. Open probably a little under-prepared and a little under-golfed and I kind of put that performance down to that more than anything.”

McDowell grew up playing links golf at Royal Portrush. He’s playing Muirfield for the first time to complete all nine courses on the Open rota. He feels right at home on the Muirfield fairways.

“Growing up on a links golf course, if I was to say which one of the four major championships, I was to win, my best chance would certainly come at a U.S. Open or British Open. I think the links-style golf is in my blood, and I always feel I revert back well to it.

“I naturally and instinctively can play well in the wind. I have a fairly good instinct for the short game. I’m a good pace putter.

“Hopefully I’ll use my links skills to good effect this week. This is a bit like Lytham last year. I liked it (Muirfield) when I saw it, as far as a golf course that sets up well for me in the Open rotation."

“A golf course like St. Andrews probably really wouldn’t be my cup of tea, because guys can fly it 300, 320 yards, can bomb trouble out of play. They can’t blow it out of play here because it’s well bunkered, plenty of rough.

“There’s going to be a lot of similar type plays off tees. You’re not going to be able to over-par this golf course. It sets up well.”

Given those comments, maybe the bookmakers’ odds are a bit too generous. Hopefully McDowell can break his win/missed cut pattern and live up to them.

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