Graeme McDowell hopes the storm over his recent Scottish Open comments can now been forgotten and he can thrive at Muirfield this week.
The former US Open champion apologised last week after sparking controversy in Scotland with remarks about the standard of the tournament immediately preceding the year’s Open Championship.
McDowell, who did not play at Castle Stuart, said the Inverness venue was not “strong enough” and that the event had “lost its prestige”.
McDowell now hopes there will be no lingering negativity as he strides out in East Lothian on Thursday to begin the year’s third major.
The 33-year-old said: “It was one of those things when after I said it, I realised it wasn’t a very good thing to be saying.
“I apologise for singling out the Scottish Open, an event which I love. I won it in 2008, it’s close to my heart.
“And certainly I was disappointed in myself as to the way things read and the negative connotation to what I said.
“Obviously I received a little negativity on my social network accounts from upset Scotsmen and people globally.
“I do talk a lot – like I’m doing right now – and sometimes you can talk yourself into a little tizzy, that when you read it on a piece of paper you go, ’I didn’t really want to say that’.
“But I love playing golf in Scotland. I was simply trying to say that the Scottish Open deserves to have a world-class field and I’m looking forward to that happening very soon.
“The people this week have given me a good reception so far.
“I’m hoping there wouldn’t be too much negativity and we can put all that stuff behind us.”
McDowell heads into the 142nd Open in inconsistent form after experiencing wildly contrasting fortunes in his last eight events.
He won three of them – the RBC Heritage in South Carolina, the World Match Play and the French Open – but missed the cut in the other five, including at the US Masters and US Open.
His failure at the US Open, a tournament he famously won in 2010, was a particularly hard one to stomach having entered the event among the favourites.
McDowell said: “I’ve probably never gone into a major feeling as tipped up and as heavily billed as I was going into Merion. I didn’t produce the goods.
“It was probably a lack of golf and (being) ’under-golfed’, and it certainly wasn’t my own expectations. I just didn’t play very well.
“I’ve been around long enough to know how to approach a week like this one.
“It’s a golf course which hopefully should set up well for me – premium and accuracy off the tee.”
Having decided to miss the Scottish Open, McDowell has honed his game for Muirfield away from the public eye and he believes his form is not as uneven as results suggest.
He said: “They say winning is a habit, it’s a contagious habit. It’s certainly a habit we like to get into.
“You can say my season this year has not really been that way.
“I haven’t fed off my victories maybe the way I needed to the last few months.
“But those missed cuts, if you look at them – I missed by one at Augusta, missed by a couple at Players, missed by one at the Irish, missed by a couple at Wentworth, missed by a couple hundred at the US Open.
“It hasn’t really been as bad as it’s read. I have felt fairly decent with my game most of the year.”