McDowell wants Rio medals to be special

Graeme McDowell has joined a growing groundswell calling for organisers to abandon the thought of staging a 72-hole strokeplay tournament when golf returns to the Olympics in 2016.

Sixty men and a similar number or women players will compete in Rio de Janeiro when golf returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

McDowell wants the Olympic golf event to stand apart from the regular tour events to ensure the reward of either gold, silver or a bronze medal is special.

“I agree that it needs to be a special format and that would be a good move,” said McDowell after posting a 67 on day two of the WGC–Bridgestone Invitational.

“Seventy-two holes has always seemed the best way to find the best player, whereas match-play doesn’t always provide the best player.

“Maybe they could have 36-holes of qualifying for eight players to then compete for the gold medal could be worthwhile.”

Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy agrees with his fellow US Open-winning colleague.

“It would be the worst possible format if organisers of the 2016 Olympics went for a 72-hole stroke-play tournament,” said Ogilvy.

“So the organisers have got the opportunity to create something very cool because 72 holes is hardly inventive.”

And former British Open champion Stewart Cink, who is also a member of the PGA Tour’s Players’ Committee, has also called for a change in format.

“A 72-hole stroke-play tournament doesn’t lend itself that well to the medal race,” said Cink. “I almost think a long-driving contest lends itself better to a medal than 72 holes, where you can have preliminaries and heats and guys are going for the gold like a sprint.”

McDowell and Rory McIlroy warmed to the heatwave conditions on day two at the Firestone course in Ohio.

Despite a 10th-hole double bogey, McIlroy was pleased to record six birdies in a three-under-par 67 to be tied with his fellow Ulsterman at three under overall.

“I feel as though I am getting more into it after a week off last week and any round with six birdies is nice,” said McIlroy.

“I’ve got another two days here to improve my game ahead of next week and that’s what I’m looking to do.”

“Of course, I wish I was a little closer to the lead but I’m happy enough with the way I have been playing the last 27 holes, and I can take a lot of positives into the weekend.”

McDowell’s round was a combination of five birdies and two bogeys.

“My round today was a bit of a reverse compared to Thursday in that I got off to great start and didn’t finish the deal but today I got off to a slower start and finished strong,” he said.

“I am still trying to bed-in a few swing thoughts, and I’m still a bit wishy-washy in that I have five different ways of doing the same thing and I just need to pick one and stay with it.”

American Jim Furyk added a 66 to his opening 63 to move two shots clear of the field at 11-under par, with Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello posting a 65 in his Firestone debut to lie second on nine under par.

Eight-time event champion Tiger Woods carded a 72 to be back at two over par.

Michael Hoey will find himself again playing in the company of England’s Tom Lewis, with the duo failing to climb out of the basement in the Ohio event.

The duo shot 78s on day one but Hoey posted a second 75 for a horror 13 over yesterday while Lewis carded a 76 to lie in last place at 14-over par.

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