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Sorry tale of David Duval convinces Graeme McDowell to stick with what he knows

The Portrush native refused to berate himself too much as his Open challenge faded away.

Graeme McDowell finished on +12 at The Open.
Graeme McDowell finished on +12 at The Open.
Image: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

GRAEME MCDOWELL AND Ian Poulter were separated by just one shot at the beginning of their final rounds at The Open. By the time both scorecards were signed, and with Phil Mickelson steaming to victory, they were divided by 11 shots and 55 positions.

Poulter, inspired by the Ryder Cup spirit of Medinah, went on a birdie charge and finished with a closing round of 67 to finish joint third. McDowell started bogey, double bogey and finished up with a par on 18 for a round of 77.

Asked what his advice would be for the eventual winner, he remarked, “Enjoy it, you know. Tell me what it’s like to sip something out of the Claret Jug. Just enjoy it and it’s busy, but it’s great busy.” McDowell added, “There will be a tinge of jealousy, for sure, but that’s sport, isn’t it?”

McDowell’s season has generally been a mix of winner’s enclosures or missed cuts. The 2010 US Open champion stuck around for the weekend at Muirfield but a former winner of The Open did not. His catch-up and golfing chat with 2001 champion David Duval [+13 for a missed cut] was a stark reminder of what can happen if players, in a desperate bid to recapture former glories, strip away everything that made them contenders in the first place.

He said, “In this game at the high level it’s tempting not to want to try to get better and better all the time. And with that can be pitfalls there, you know, by trying to change things. We’ve seen great players come and go, and great players try to change things.”

David Duval kisses the Claret Jug in 2001. (Rebecca Naden/PA Archive)

He added, “Speaking to David Duval on the range, he’s trying to get back to swinging it way he was in the late ’90s or early 2000s. He swung a bit like me with and he wanted to come watch me hit balls, because he wanted to get himself back to where he was.”

It really resonated with me because you hear a guy like that, who was the No. 1 player in the world, and won The Open Championship in great style at Lytham, the guy was awesome. In an attempt to try to get better, he made himself worse.

“It’s a funny old game. It’s a hard game. And you’ve got to really just believe and stick to the things that have got you there in the first place, you know.”

Next up in a punishing summer schedule for McDowell is an appearance at the Canadian Open. The majors, he admits, ‘come thick and fast’ and the US PGA is up next from 8-11 August. He is set to get married to partner Kristin Stape later that month before the money-spinning tournaments of September and October.

Even if he was considering tweaks, the Northern Irishman would find it hard to schedule in some extra practice sessions.

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Patrick McCarry

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