Graeme McDowell says he’s rediscovered the X Factor and that he’s looking forward to a ‘purists’ US Open.
McDowell won the US Open in 2010 and finished runner-up two years later, but in recent years he’s been in the doldrums and not so long ago slumped outside the world’s top 200 golfers before recovering to sit 172 currently.
But as he gets ready for Thursday’s tee off at Shinnecock Hills, New York State, the County Antrim player feels that he’s finally getting back to where he wants to be.
"I’m on a rebuild process which is taking me a little longer than expected," he admitted, speaking to RTÉ Sport's Greg Allen on course. "I think I’ve gone through that need for it to happen next week; I’m happy that if it’s going to take six months or a year, so be it.
"I’m starting to play the type of golf I know I’m capable of, I’m starting to believe in myself in the way I can. The two weeks in Wentworth and Italy (where he finished 12th and fifth respectively in recent weeks) were very big for that last little bit of X Factor that I was missing, which was confidence.
"That’s what I’m building towards the past couple of years – to see my name back on leaderboards again, particularly on the biggest stages.
"The US Open is always an event I had a lot of belief in myself, having had a first and a second, and it’s nice to come back to a purist’s US Open golf course where I believe par is going to be a good score, feeling good about my game. There’s a spring in my step that I haven’t had in a while."
McDowell tees off at 1.25pm US time, 6.25pm in Ireland, on Thursday on the tenth hole and his playing partners are Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson.
Having had a good look around Shinnecock Hills, he feels the course is just right for a US Open and he doesn’t expect to see much low scoring across the weekend.
"I like the golf course – from what I’ve seen it’s pleased me. I’ve read guys saying that you have to bomb it around here, but I don’t see that," he explained.
"I think the golf course is going to firm up and standing there today I think the USGA have the course exactly where they want it to be.
"They can control the scoring from here; obviously the wind could be a factor, but they can firm it up as much as they want from here. This is an iron player’s golf course, this is a second shot course where you have to position the ball coming into these greens to have any chance to make pars, let along birdies.
"Pars are going to be great scores this week and that’s what the US Open has always been to me – pars being a great score and level par being a great total. I think we could potentially see that this week, which is exciting."
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