Graeme McDowell is desperate to challenge for the Irish Open title for the first time in his career this week - and is already looking forward to experiencing a taste of Phoenix in County Kildare.

McDowell has a poor record in the event for a man who is in the world's top 10 and has a major championship to his name, missing the cut five times in 11 appearances with a best finish of 11th back in 2004.

Two of those missed cuts came when Carton House last hosted the tournament in 2005 and 2006, but the 33-year-old former US Open champion can expect better weather this time around and plenty of vocal support, most notably at the 17th.

The 176-yard par three is described in the official programme as a "rousing spectator stadium" with grandstand seating for almost 1,500 spectators, a big-screen TV relaying the action and a bar just yards away from the green.

It is reminiscent of the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale during the Phoenix Open, where players are loudly cheered for birdies but booed for missing the green.

"I just love what they have done here," McDowell said. "They have really put a lot of effort into making this an exciting weekend and the grandstands on the back of 17 should be a lot of fun.

"With a pint of Guinness in hand come the weekend and a bit of sunshine it should be a phenomenal atmosphere out there on Sunday afternoon. Not quite the Phoenix Open, but Dublin's version of, and it should make for a great weekend.

"The golf course is in phenomenal condition. I think they have learned a lot from the course set-up in 2005 and 2006 when obviously the weather didn't comply, and it made the golf course play extremely tough.

"I think they have got it spot on this week with not much rough. The golf course doesn't need a lot of rough; it's well bunkered, it's very well bunkered, in fact. The bunkers are extremely penal, extremely deep and the green surfaces are as good as I've seen in a long time.

"The golf gods look like they might comply for a change here in Ireland (with good weather) and that really makes a huge difference."

McDowell was among the later starters with Padraig Harrington and defending champion Jamie Donaldson, but world number two Rory McIlroy was due to get his challenge under way at 7:50am alongside former winners Shane Lowry and Thomas Bjorn.