Graeme McDowell is praying he can avoid becoming part of the 17th hole bloodbath at TPC Sawgrass.

The Ulsterman will tee it up in The Players for just the second time, hoping to maintain his 100 percent “dry” record on the terrifying, 137-yard par-three.

But he knows that the fans who will be packing the stands around the famous island green can’t wait to see him dump the ball in the water.

Joining a struggling Padraig Harrington and birthday boy Rory McIlroy for the game’s unofficial ‘Fifth Major’, McDowell said: “You have got 20,000 people sitting around baying for blood with every group that comes through.

“All of a sudden you game got this little sliver of land in the middle of a lake and it is carnage. If it blows, it's absolute carnage.”

McDowell made four pars at the 17th when he finished 40th at Sawgrass on his 2005 debut.

And he admits that he is haunted by images of Bob Tway racking up a nightmare 12 as he prepared for his turn in 2005.

Trying hard to sound positive about the ordeal ahead, McDowell said: “The last three holes at Sawgrass are dramatic — the most dramatic finish in world golf.

“You can play them in three under as easily as three over but all you are looking at going up 16 is the 17th green. It is only an eight iron and in 2005 I found land all four times.

“But the hard part is the build up because there are always two or three groups waiting on the tee.

“I’ll never forget Bob Tway making an 12 in the group in front of me when I first played there in 2005.

“That’s my lasting memory of 17. It was horrible to watch and it was even worse having to stand up there after him and try to hit that green.

“You just don’t want to watch the guys in front but it is a bit of a catch 22. You want to see the shots coming in and what the wind is doing but at the same time you don’t want any negative feedback.”

Tway was tied for tenth in the third round when he blasted his first two tee shots over the green and then spun two more back into the water.

He hit the green at the fifth attempt but then three-putted for a 12, the highest score in the hole's history, and went on to tie for 72nd.

Tway groaned: “You're playing great. All of a sudden, in one hole, you might as well be finishing last.”

McDowell is building up for the 3 Irish Open at Baltray next week, where fans will get in free on Thursday if they register at www.3irishopen.ie before Sunday next.

There won’t be 20,000 fans at Baltray’s par-three 17th but with triple major winner Padraig Harrington and young gun Rory McIlroy in the field, he reckons the Irish Open can become a major force in European golf again.

He said: “The Irish Open has had a bad run in the last five years and the guys got scared off by the weather. It has been awful.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good run this year and Irish golfers are on a great run with Padraig a force in the majors and Rory probably the most exciting player to emerge since Sergio Garcia.”

Harrington missed the cut in the Quail Hollow Championship and must be seriously worried about his form with zero top-10s and three missed cuts from nine PGA Tour starts this season.

The Dubliner is fighting a hook off the tee and struggling on the greens with 16 three-putts already this season.

That’s the kind of combination that leads to big numbers at Sawgrass, where he has missed the cut twice in the last three years.