McDowell playing it cool

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell will avoid reaching for the panic button when he competes in this week’s Alstom Open de France.

McDowell’s missed cut in last week’s Irish Open was the fifth in his last six strokeplay events and left him spending the weekend at Carton House on the practice range, alongside compatriot Rory McIlroy, looking for some form ahead of the upcoming British Open.

The 33-year-old also made early exits from the Masters, US Open and Players Championship this season, but can somehow boast two wins alongside all the missed cuts, claiming the RBC Heritage title the week after Augusta and the Volvo World Match Play crown in Bulgaria.

“Obviously that Volvo World Match Play offsets some really average golf for me I suppose,” McDowell admitted in his pre-tournament press conference at Le Golf National. “I feel like I went into the US Open a bit under golfed to be honest with you; (with) a few missed cuts here and there and playing a slightly reduced schedule this year. I really just haven’t had enough course time the last couple of months and that was highlighted at the US Open – he shot rounds of 76 and 77 at Merion — and it was highlighted a little bit last week in Ireland, missing by one there. I thought I had snuck in for the weekend and I could have done with a couple of extra rounds of golf under my belt, but used the weekend constructively, hit a lot of balls.

“I feel like, thankfully, I’ve got a couple of victories under the belt this year to offset maybe the panic button being hit. It is a good thing to be coming into this run of golf fresh I suppose, I’ve got a lot of golf coming up here the next few months. The game’s not in terrible shape to be honest with you. It’s been a fine line here and there. The motivation’s there and I’m feeling hungry and ready to go this summer. I’ve worked very hard the last 10 days or so and I’ve probably hit as many balls in the last 10 days as I have in a couple of months really. I could do with a weekend here where I compete and play four rounds, get the old juices flowing.”

McDowell is one of three players in the world’s top 10 competing in Paris, the world number nine being joined by eighth-ranked Luke Donald and number five Matt Kuchar.

“This is an event I talked about with my agent for a couple years in trying to make the time work to be able to make it here,” Kuchar said. “It is one of those things I saw on the horizon as a place I wanted to go.

“I’ve never been to France before and I don’t know anybody that doesn’t fantasise, romanticise about going to Paris. I talked to some players about the golf tournament here and they said it is one of the best courses they play all year. So there were a lot of things that said I really ought to come. This year it worked out, and the timing’s been great. We are going to go down to the south of France for a little vacation (after the tournament) and then I’ll make my way up to Scotland a few days before the British to start preparing. Everybody’s impression of Paris is it’s the most romantic place in the world. It’s less romantic with the children but we’ve brought along a nanny, as well, to help out, so we’ve had some fantastic meals. We’ve had some ability to walk along hand in hand by ourselves along the streets of Paris and kind of do the things that we’d like to do.”


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