Defending champion Graeme McDowell strangely launched into a vigorous defence of guaranteed Ryder Cup rookie Victor Dubuisson after the second round of the French Open.
McDowell recorded four birdies and two bogeys in a two-under-par 69 and move to three under par on the 2018 Ryder Cup National course outside of Versailles.
The World No 20 finds himself in a seven-way share of fourth place, along with Belfast’s Michael Hoey, and seven strokes behind American Kevin Stadler.
Stadler somewhat soured his Independence Day celebration by doubling the last hole in a score of 68, but he still leads the way by three shots at 10 under par.
However, after spending two days alongside Dubuisson, McDowell was outspoken of a French media who continue to single out Dubuisson over his long-term frosty dealings with the home press.
“The French media should give Victor the chance to see how good he can be and not coming here to France to prove something this week,” said McDowell.
“I feel bad for him so it was great to see him fight back and make the cut, and I think he will be a great Ryder Cup player.
“He’s a very dynamic player and I said to him out there today, that if I make the team perhaps he and I could play better-ball together as that would be a lot of fun, so watch this space.”
And McDowell revealed he has agreed to play a Royal Liverpool practice round with Greystones’ Paul Dunne, the 21-year old amateur who finished top in Tuesday’s British Open qualifier at Woburn.
“I’ve played a few times with Paul and I was delighted to see him qualify for Royal Liverpool,” said McDowell.
“The great thing also he’s a UAB [University of Alabama] and kind of following the same sort of path I went down.
“I just got a text this week from Dubliner Alan Murray, the head golf coach at UAB. He asked if I would play a few practice holes with Paul when we get to Royal Liverpool so I texted back saying I would be delighted to.”
Hoey, who is seeking to secure one of the three spots available this week into the British Open and join both McDowell and Dunne, capped his 66 and equal lowest round of a day with four birdies in a row from the 13th hole.
“This is my lowest-ever score around here is really pleasing,” he said.
“The four birdies in a row was the key but then I hit it in the water again on 18, and that’s three balls into the water at 18 this week and I’m still three under.
“Also I’m in good shape to secure one of the three spots into the [British] Open.”
Damien McGrane birdied two of his three closing holes in a 69 to move to two under par and one clear of Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin (68).
However, Pádraig Harrington missed the cut with scores of 74 and 73.