Graeme McDowell's 'bad day at the office' as dreams end up in a gorse bush
One catastrophically bad swing puts paid to Irishman's late challenge
He went from G-Mac to G-Snap in the blink of an eye. All it took was one bad swing and Graeme McDowell's Open challenge was over. He stood in position A at the par-five 11th with a fairway wood in his hand. One snap hook later and his ball was in position Z, lost in a bush.
His ball set off like an Exocet towards the gallery. Had it been any lower, he wouldn't have been paying for a hotel bill like his pal Rory McIlroy did when he whacked a teenager on the head, McDowell would have been paying for a funeral. It was a shot that weekend hackers know only too well. But for McDowell it was a once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe. And what a wretched time to do it. "It was a dead pull, 15-handicapper card-wrecker," McDowell said after his final round five-over-par 75. "I struggled to adapt to the conditions with the crosswinds."
The thought must have crossed his mind as he was sitting on the buggy being taken back to play his penalty shot, his brain like scrambled eggs, to ask the driver to keep going and drop him off at Lytham station. "That was very smart. There goes my Open Championship," McDowell said he was thinking as he stared into the abyss knowing it was all over but he still had seven holes to negotiate. "It's the longest walk in golf," he said. "And, believe me, the cart ride doesn't make it any shorter."
That's twice in two months the 32-year-old has gone out in the final pairing of a major and lost. Last month he just couldn't reel in Webb Simpson at the US Open. Yesterday, his Open dream dived into a gorse bush. But sportsmen are always searching for the positives from a painful defeat. McDowell will know he is back to being the street-fighting man that he was in 2010 when he won the US Open at Pebble Beach and holed the winning putt at the Ryder Cup. His 2011 annus horribilis hangover is over.
So what did he learn? "Going out in the last group in the last two majors with chances to win, but getting off to a flat start. That's frustrating. I'll be analysing why," he said. "You just can't buy the type of education I've just had at Lytham as well as five weeks ago [at the Olympic Club in San Francisco]. I'll bank that and know that if I keep putting myself in contention, one day it will be my time."
Next up, it's the US PGA Championship in August at Kiawah Island near Charlotte in North Carolina – glory's last shot, as it's called. You would fancy McDowell to feature on Sunday afternoon again. "Today was a bad day at the office," McDowell said. But the Northern Irishman, always classy whether in victory or defeat, knew to put his own frustrations into perspective, having witnessed Adam Scott's four-bogeys meltdown over the final holes: "My disappointment seems relatively stupid as I've just seen a guy lose the Open Championship. It's hard to watch a guy do that. I'm not beat up. I'm not splattered in the floor. I'll be back."
He was talking about himself but it was impossible not to think that McDowell's words were, as ever, well chosen. He knew just how Scott would be feeling. McDowell slipped away no doubt for a beer to ease the pain. Scott, meanwhile, might get to know how Oates felt on that failed Antarctic expedition: "I am just going out for a while, and I may be some time."
Latest in Sport
A tight game could be in prospect here. Northampton have been keeping things very tight of late and ...
by Gareth Purnell
18 May 2013 02:01 AM
I can’t ever watch games of football or rugby without wistfully wondering what it must be like to be...
by Martin Ayres
16 May 2013 05:10 PM
Since PSG’s exit to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final in April, PSG have been sur...
by Matthew Riding
15 May 2013 02:37 PM
Tears and cheers as David Beckham ends glittering career after helping PSG to final win
England manager Roy Hodgson attacks Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham over tours
Video: Emotional David Beckham leaves the pitch for 'the last time'
Another nail-biting finish for unlucky Tottenham as Arsenal look to secure Champions League place on last day
Boxing: Carl Froch slams fellow Brits for sparring with Mikkel Kessler
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Boxing: Carl Froch slams fellow Brits for sparring with Mikkel Kessler
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 David Cameron goes to war with press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.