Graeme McDowell 'hurting' after disappointing finish but staying positive

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

You could forgive Graeme McDowell for feeling frustrated after a nightmare finish to his opening round at Royal Portrush left him on two-over for the day.

GMac was ticking along nicely on his home turf up until then.

A birdie on the 14th moved to him to within one shot of leader Shane Lowry on -4.

But three putts on the 15th and 17th greens meant two dropped shots, but unfortunately worse was to follow.

He lost his tee shot on the 18th in heavy rough which meant he finished with a triple bogey taking his final score to 73.

Despite it all McDowell is determined to take the positives out of what was an impressive round up until the last four holes.

"It's very important that I take the positives out today, because there was a huge amount of positives," he said.

"I played beautiful all day. I felt like apart from the flat stick, which was very cold, the three-putt on 15 and it started lashing down, kind of took the momentum, the sting out of the day a little bit.

"But I felt like a steadied the ship. Good tee shot on 16. On 17 I did well, a bad lie, I left it exactly where I was trying to leave it, then I three-putt, as well.

"I was frustrated walking to the 18th tee. It was an innocuous tee shot. I wasn't expecting to lose the ball, put it that way. I'm walking down there expecting half a lie, maybe get up short of the green or back into play and try to make four, and I can't find it. It's disappointing.

"It was such a special day. Getting off that first tee this morning, I literally had a tear in my eye. It was kind of cool stuff. And like I say, to conduct myself as well as I did all day and play as well as I did all day, and then to finish like that was - it hurts, you know, it hurts a lot.

"But it's golf. It's golf. Listen, you've got to take the rough with the smooth and that was rough, but hopefully there's some more smooth ahead."

As expected McDowell was given a rapturous welcome all around the course, which is on his doorstep.

And he freely admitted it was emotional for him out there.

"I did have a tear in the eye, and I'm kind of embarrassed to say it," he said.

"But I didn't know why I had one. I guess I do know why I had one, but at the same time I'm trying to go out there and play golf. And I'm welling up.

"It's been an amazing journey to get here. People have been amazing. And the receptions out there were really a lot of fun. To be honest, as soon as I got off the first, I felt very relaxed.

"But the first tee was definitely a little emotional and a little intimidating. I was happy to get that away.

"But in a funny way, the way the golf course set up today, the first five holes were there for the taking a little bit. And you could kind of get into the round quite easily.

"I was only one-under through six, and you feel like you should be a little better. I felt like I played the top part of the course really well. Set myself up with a good chance coming down the stretch.

"That heavy shower came through, it definitely took a little bit of sting out of the greens. I three-putt 15, I three-putt 17, which is hugely disappointing. And definitely kind of hurt a little bit. But that finish is going to take a little bit of getting over for half an hour."