A little over a month ago in Munich, when it was too late to make the team, Graeme McDowell scored a 62 on the final day of Ryder Cup qualifying. Yesterday, he matched that effort but in the rather more imposing surroundings of the Old Course.
It was the lowest round of McDowell's career - lift-and-place rules were in operation in Munich due to wet conditions - but, more than that, it gave him a place in history as only the fourth player to achieve a 10-under-par round of 62 at the "Home of Golf".
The 25-year-old from Portrush was playing the Old Course for only the fifth time. He equalled the record set originally by Curtis Strange in the old Dunhill Cup in 1987. Since then the course has been lengthened considerably and it was matched only last year in the final round of the Dunhill Links Championship by Brian Davis.
Then in June this year a 20-year-old Scottish Youth international, Kevin McAlpine, son of the former Dundee United goalkeeper Hamish, also scored a 62 in qualifying for the Amateur Championship.
It was at the 17th, the Road Hole, that McDowell produced a superb seven-iron to 12 feet for his 10th birdie of the day. At the last, his approach finished 10 feet behind the hole but with a wicked downhill, left-to-right putt for the record he saw the ball trickle away on the low side. "It was not the putt you want to leave yourself but it wasn't much of an effort, either," McDowell said.
McDowell topped the leaderboard after the first round by three strokes from David Howell, Retief Goosen and Peter Lonard, who all scored 65s at Kingsbarns, and James Kingston, who hit a 65 at Carnoustie.
Vijay Singh and Ernie Els, the best two players in the world, both scored 68s at Kingsbarns, along with Colin Montgomerie, but the next best score on the Old Course was Jose Maria Olazabal's 68 which left McDowell a massive six strokes ahead of anyone else playing the same terrain. Singh remarked later that McDowell's effort "must have been an out-of-this-world score".
On a sunny morning with a moderate breeze, the gales of the practice days having eased up, McDowell holed more than his fair share of 15-footers - but never once went in a bunker. "To be honest, I was riding my luck at times," he added. "For a guy who doesn't know how to play this course properly, it was almost like blasphemy."Reuse content