Fresh-again Graeme McDowell enjoys walk in park at Fota Island

 

Graeme McDowell’s Open preparations were given a boost yesterday when he moved into contention for the Irish Open by taking a share of the lead yesterday.

McDowell made his tournament debut when Cork’s Fota Island last hosted the event in 2002 and finished 27th, but that was one of just six halfway cuts the former US Open champion has made in 12 appearances in the event.

The 34-year-old has never finished in the top 10, but added a 66 to his opening 68 to join Robert Rock in the clubhouse lead on eight under.

“There’s always a first time for everything,” joked McDowell after six birdies and one bogey. “Eight under is a nice total, and although I don’t expect it to be leading at the end of the day, it doesn’t have to. I am just excited to be in contention.”

McDowell admitted he felt the effects of last week’s exertions in the US Open when he hit his first-round tee shot on the par-three 17th 50 yards short of the green.

“I was a little sharper this morning, legs felt fresher,” he added. “I missed two fairways, my iron play was better and I putted well. The Irish Open brings its own pressure, but it’s the proverbial walk in the park compared to last week, which bordered on the unenjoyable.”

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