Graeme McDowell saw a dream start turn into a nightmare on the greens as he crashed to a second round 77 but still made the cut by the skin of his teeth in the Talisker Masters in Melbourne.
The 2010 US Open champion got blown away in tricky afternoon conditions at Kingston Heath as he followed an eagle at the par-five first with a birdie at the second before dropping eight shots in a 13-hole spell in mid round. Scores
After scraping in for the weekend on four over, 14 shots behind leader Matthew Guyatt, McDowell told the Herald Sun: “I had the dream start, three after three, then after that, no comment.”
“I just completely lost my rhythm out there.
“It was a tough day.
“I can’t remember putting worse than I putted today, especially from long range. I just couldn’t seem to get it within six feet (2m), never mind dead.
“I laid it up in a trap on six, then plugged it in the front right trap and made double which knocked the wind out of my sails.
“I three-putted seven and I was in a tailspin after that.
“The harder I tried, the worse I got - just one of those humbling days that golf throws at you.”
McDowell, effusive in his praise of Kingston Heath all week long, flatly denied his love affair with the course was over.
“Absolutely not,” he said with a smile.
“It was nothing to do with the golf course, it was all to do with me.
“It was a great test of golf.
“I didn’t play 77 bad, but I putted 87 bad.”
McDowell took 33 putts in his first round, but that came after hitting 89% of greens in regulation.
Yesterday, from closer range given he hit only 75% of greens in regulation, he still had 32 putts.
His 65 putts ranks him equal 102nd in the field of 119.
He racked up six bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-four sixth, missed many fairways and struggled on the slick greens, saying he could not remember putting worse.
Faced with the choice between punishing himself in the gym or going out on the town, McDowell appeared to be leaning towards his fitness.
“I need something, I either need to go and batter myself in the gym tonight or batter myself in the casino, I’m not sure which one is going to happen but probably the former.”
Guyatt shot a 69 to lead by two strokes from former New Zealand cricketer Mike Hendry on 10 under and by three from Adam Scott, who shot a fine 70 alongside McDowell.
“I’m up for the challenge. I am striking the ball well enough to get it around here in the wind for two more days,” said Scott, who is seeking his first win of the season.
“I think I am in pretty good shape, there are only two people in front of me, so there are not too many to pass to get where I want to be.”
Defending champion Ian Poulter was upset to card only a level par 72 that left him five shots off the pace but tied for fourth with Craig Hancock on five under.
While 34 players broke par on the opening day, just 17 players finished in red figures for 36 holes and Scott was delighted to notch one of just 13 sub-par rounds recorded on Friday.
“It was a tough day,” he said. “It was probably a two-club wind and it also firmed the golf course up.
“As tough as it was however I wouldn’t want to be on any other golf course. It was fantastic. The par threes are so difficult. The 11th is a short par three but none of our group hit the green.”