Tag:graeme mcdowell
Posted on: March 3, 2012 4:44 pm

Past major winners making noise at the Honda

By Shane Bacon

Leave it to one of the harder golf courses on tour to bring out some of the best from some of the best. Not only is Rory McIlroy attempting to become number one in the world with a win this week, but some of the guys we hoped would have great seasons are making this a statement week.  

You’d first have to look at Keegan Bradley, who seems to really pump his game up when the field is impressive. Keegan, who lives in the area, has been magnificant this week, and year, and has shown that 2011 isn’t going to be some fluke. 

But the two names you have to be impressed with are past major winners in Charl Schwartzel and Graeme McDowell. Schwartzel was a double-bogey on No. 11 away from posting a tournament-shifting round on Saturday, but still managed a 3-under 67 to get himself in the mix come Sunday. 

Then you have Graeme McDowell. Before there was Rory on our minds, McDowell was the stud out of Northern Ireland who won an incredible U.S. Open. McDowell had one of those special seasons in 2010, but has really struggled since the Chevron that year and has been looking to bounce back. After his 64-69 Friday and Saturday, Graeme is in the top-10 and if he keeps the momentum, might land in the top-five before the week ends. 

While this week is always going to be about Rory’s chance at number one and Tiger Woods trying to bounce back at a course near his home, some of the players making noise are the guys the tour needs to come back to raise the interest level, and so far, they’ve done their jobs. 

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:33 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 1:23 pm

Matches we'd love to see at the Accenture

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy shake hands earlier this season in Abu Dhabi. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

We know, we know, predicting things in golf is absolutely impossible, but the interesting nature of match play has us thinking ahead. What are the best possible matches that COULD happen this week at the Accenture? These are our favorite possible matchups. 

Nick Watney vs. Tiger Woods (second round) -- Any match Tiger is in will be featured, but I’d love see a player like Watney go up against him Tiger in a fairly even match.

Graeme McDowell vs. Hunter Mahan (second round) -- I’m fairly certain Mahan would love a piece of McDowell in match player after what happened at the 2010 Ryder Cup, and it would be the featured round of Thursday.  

Sergio Garcia vs. Keegan Bradley (second round) -- I’d like this just for the pre-match ceremony where Garcia hands over the “Incredibly Long Pre-Shot Gold Medal.” He’s held it for so many years!  

Adam Scott vs. Dustin Johnson (third round) -- I just like the idea of zero University of Arizona girls going to class on Friday so they can head out and see Mr. Scott vs. Mr. Johnson. 

Lee Westwood vs. Tiger Woods (third round) -- A clash of titans before the quarter-finals? Yes please.  

Rory McIlroy vs. Sergio Garcia (third round) -- Probably the best chance for McIlroy to get upset out of his bracket, Garcia is headed in playing some seriously good golf, and two of the bigger names in the game would bring tons of attention to the Gary Player bracket. 

Martin Kaymer vs. Bubba Watson (third round) -- I think just about everyone would be excited to see this rematch of the 2011 semi-finals, just as long as Kaymer leaves the scarf at home. 

Rory McIlroy vs. Jason Day (quarter-finals) -- I have a feeling this will happen, and I’m absolutely jazzed about it. 

Ben Crane vs. Kevin Na (quarter-finals) -- Can an entire match be put on the clock? Can even the guy putting people on the clock be put on the clock? No chance this isn't the final match of the day. It has to be!   

Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger Woods (semi-finals) -- Do I really need to explain why this would be awesome? 

Luke Donald vs. Tiger Woods (finals) -- Because I’d really like to see Tiger get his first win in something like this, over a bunch of big names, the last being the world number one. I think that would really show just where he is with his golf game, and give the guy about a 400 percent boost, confidence-wise. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter.  

Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 3:38 pm

Bay Hill track, McDowell deliver butt-kicking

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Truth be told, yeah, Graeme McDowell could sense something was amiss in his game.

He had a poor practice session on Wednesday morning at his home course across town, a sloppy effort in the tournament pro-am that afternoon, which prompted "a half-hour emergency session on the range" in an attempt to find a fast fix.

The cure still eludes him.

In one of the biggest surprises of the month, the defending U.S. Open champion on Thursday posted his highest score ever in a non-major on the PGA Tour, skidding home with an 8-over 80 that left him tied for last after the morning wave finished at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

McDowell, who at world No. 4 is the top-rated player in the field, was wrestling with every club in the bag when he tried to reach the par-5 sixth hole -- his 15th of the day -- in two shots in an attempt to make  up ground. Instead, he tugged it into a lake and by the time he cleaned up the mess, he'd made a triple-bogey eight.

As usual, the chatty Irishman discussed the disastrous day with a sense of aplomb and self-deprecation, which is about the only way to handle such an all-around meltdown.

"After I made triple on No. 6, I was well aware that I had to finish with a few pars to break the old 80 barrier, but managed to three-whack eight just compound the error," he laughed. "It was one of those things. It was a battle out there and I tried to hang tough, but that triple bogey just kind of ended my week, probably."

Now what?

McDowell hasn’t been happy with his long game for weeks, but this was a sobering setback. By most yardsticks, he's been the second-best player in the world over the past 12 months.

"I got it all out of my system today," he said. "There's not really an explanation. My long game's kind of been a little off lately.

"Disappointing, really, not exactly what I had in mind and 80 is pretty awesome stuff. You know, this is a tough golf course and you really wanna be on top of your game out there and I was on top of nothing today. Didn’t drive it particularly well, my iron play was pretty weak and I putted awful."

He three-putted three greens, which was perhaps the most alarming part of the day, because his short game was fairly stellar in his last start at Doral. All of a sudden, none of his clubs seems to be all that effective. For context, McDowell had an 81 in the final round of the 2005 U.S. Open and an 80 in the third round of the '08 British Open, the only other instances in which he hasn't finished in the 70s or better in PGA Tour play.

"It's a work in progress right now," he said. "I haven’t been very happy with my game for about four weeks. Scrappy. The long game's been a little off the boil. The short game has been sharp and my long game has left me a little bit. It's back to the drawing board. I have two weeks to get ready for Augusta and that's the priority right now.

"You've got to get this out of your system. It's golf. It's why we have to enjoy the good times. Because it's a rough game that throws you a few bad days.

"This may be the wakeup call I need, you know? So it's a good thing really, a reality check for me. I've got to get my ass in gear and start working hard. Not that I haven’t been working hard, but I really have to get my focus back a little bit, and focus on what I am doing as opposed to all the other crap around me right now."

McDowell conceded that he's been busy -- he changed equipment, had his wisdom teeth removed, is building a new home and has had myriad media and social requests as the Open champion.

"I’d be lying if I said my life wasn't a bit more distracting off the course nowadays," he said. "But you have to learn how to handle that stuff. I had a week off last week and I should be better prepared than I am.

"I'm not very happy with the way I am swinging club and my iron game is very out of control. It’s not like me. A month ago, six weeks ago, I had it on a string. It's definitely technique issue that I've got to get my head around.

"That's golf, why we love it, why we hate it. Like I say, it might be the kick in the ass I need and it’s a good thing."

His swing coach, Pete Cowen, is flying into Orlando next Thursday, shortly after McDowell returns from a quick scouting trip to Augusta National. McDowell isn’t playing in Houston next week.

"Augusta in my sights right now, I've got 13 days to get ready and this shows me I've got a little work to do," he said. "I wasn't going to play, and I realize now, I've got a lot of work to get done."

Posted on: March 24, 2011 11:50 am

McDowell loses way on Bay Hill greens

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The highest-ranked guy in the Arnold Palmer Invitational is getting whacked around pretty soundly in the first round.

World No. 4 Graeme McDowell, who finished second at Bay Hill in 2005, six years before he became a member of the PGA Tour, got off to an awful start in the morning wave on Thursday and fell ijnto a tie for dead last among those on the course.

The U.S. Open champion, who put on a blistering putting display in his last start at Doral, three-jacked two greens in his first 11 holes in the first round and skidded to 5-over and into a tie for last with Kenny Perry, Brandt Snedeker and Ben Curtis.

Plenty of time left, obviously, but area PGA club-pro champ Rod Perry was beating the aforementioned trio by two shots as play in the morning wave continued.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 6:54 pm

Woods' two tee shots defy description

DORAL, Fla. -- It goes by many names.

A smother hook, a drop-kick, a quick snap, a quacking duck.

By any description, it was one of the ugliest, head-turning shots of Tiger Woods' career.

Playing his second hole of the second round at the Cadillac Championship on Friday, Woods lunged so far off the ball at impact that he took a divot in the tee box and hit a snapping hook than got perhaps 10 feet off the ground and barely traveled 50 yards in the air.

It fast dived dead left into the rough and stopped just a few yards past the end of the main tee box -- and well short of the women's tee. Though the PGA Tour's laser tracking system estimated the drive at 120 yards, the measurement was taken by a device situated at least 150 yards away. In actuality, it likely didn't crack triple figures.

"It's not the first time I've hit a snipe," said Woods, who shot 2-over 74 and none too happy that the shot was brought up after the round. "I've done it at the Masters. It is what it is."

His playing partners stared at each other, wordlessly. Mickelson was next on the tee to hit.

"It was difficult following that," Lefty said, smirking. "But it's really not for me to talk about anybody's bad drives."

True enough, given his occasionally scattershot dispersal patterns over the years. Graeme McDowell, world No. 4 and the third member of the high-powered trio, had no such hesitation in discussing the shot. Moreover, the duck hook was hardly the lone squirrelly miss that Woods produced -- he badly popped up a 3-wood shot in the 14th hole that went 102 yards shorter than McDowell's 290-yard drive. He angrily slammed the club into the turf. 

"Yeah, it's pretty tough not to have a giggle," McDowell said. "We all hit bad shots -- hit a couple of those in my time. You know, Tiger actually hit two tee shots today, that I would say, combined, didn't go further than 200 yards. 

"He hit that snap hook off No. 2, which didn't go further than 85 yards, and he hit a pop up fly to midfield on 14, which probably wasn't about 120, max.

"So a couple interesting ones ... The guy is working on his golf swing and working hard on things and every now and again you have a few weird ones in there."

Posted on: March 11, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 6:20 pm

Woods, Lefty, GMac can't bring out best

DORAL, Fla. -- As everybody knows by now, Phil Mickelson has a pretty acute sense of humor, so the self-deprecation he offered on the eighth hole on Friday was no real surprise.

Wandering in the fairway, he spotted Golf Channel analyst Roger Maltbie and exchanged greetings. Asked how he was doing, Mickelson smirked.

"Just trying to get as little out of my round as possible," Mickelson said.

In that regard, Mickelson and heavyweight playing companions Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell were succeeding wildly in the second round of the Cadillac Championship on Friday.

"We dragged each other down a little bit today," McDowell said. "I didn't hit very many fairways. Tiger didn't hit very many fairways. Phil missed a few.

"We started off with a beautiful crowd the front nine holes and wasn't surprised to see it dwindle in the back nine. I think they got it a little bored with us, perhaps."

By the time the trio made the turn, they all were nine or more strokes off the lead. Worse, it took a stultifying 2:33 minutes to play the front nine. Of course, when nobody's making many birdies, it taked a little longer. Ranked Nos. 4-5-6 in the world, they clearly played like the B Team. 

Mickelson finished with a 71, McDowell shot 73 and Woods skidded in with a 74.

On the fourth hole, a loud male fan turned up wearing a red T-shirt that read: "Tiger Woods, 71 wins, 14 majors, Enough Said." He could also have added, "three bogeys," which is what Woods had totalled over his wildly uneven first five holes, mixed with two birdies.

In one of the most anticipated groupings of the year -- Woods and Mickelson have rarely been paired in the first two rounds over the years -- none of the three was under par through 10 holes.

The trio has 19 majors between them, including two recorded in 2010.
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