Graeme McDowell plans to keep his promise to Darren Clarke and bring the Claret Jug home to Northern Ireland today.
The Portrush man wants to put the famous old trophy in the “Shrine” at Rathmore Golf Club just 12 months after Clarke took it to Royal Portrush and 65 years after Rathmore man Fred Daly lifted it at Hoylake.
Insisting he’d be dreaming big today as he goes out in the final group four shots behind Adam Scott, McDowell said: “I think I replied to a tweet of Darren’s at the end of last week as he was getting a few snaps and a few family portraits done with the Claret Jug.
“Some of the photos were pretty cool and I said to him, ‘I’ve got a funny feeling that we’ll maybe be bringing that Claret Jug back to Northern Ireland next week.’
“I was talking about myself and him and Rory and Michael Hoey and the quality of players we have in Northern Ireland as a whole having an opportunity to bring that back.
“And I guess it would be fairly prophetic if I happened to get the job done tomorrow evening.
“There’s no doubt I think Darren will be an inspiration and someone that I’ll think about a little bit tomorrow.
“But I can’t let the emotions get ahead of me. I’ve got to stay in the present tomorrow.”
McDowell explained that he has dream of lifting the Claret Jug to the sky since he was a boy.
And the 2010 US Open champion he insisted that all the pressure is on Scott to clinch his maiden major win and Australia’s first Open since Greg Norman triumphed in 1993.
He said: “If Adam Scott goes and plays great tomorrow, he’s going to be a hard man to catch, no doubt about it. But I’m happy to be looking the guy in the eye tomorrow, and it will be a great battle.
“There’s a lot of quality names behind us, as well, and just looking forward to the challenge.
“It will be a case of keeping your head down for 13 or 14 holes and that’s kind of what I did at Pebble. I’m in a very similar position to what I was at Pebble in that I’m going to be three or four back.
“He’s going to be the guy who’s going to sleep on the lead tonight. He’s going to be the guy with all the pressure.”
With winds expected to gust over 30 mph this afternoon, McDowell knows he could have an advantage.
“It will be in Adam’s hands tomorrow if the conditions are as straightforward as they have been the last few days,” he said.
“Throw a bit of wind across this course like perhaps they are forecasting, he will have to go and work a lot harder and he will have to go win it.”
McDowell will use his boyhood dreams and his US Open experiences to fuel his Open ambitions today, insisting: “I think since I was a young boy I dreamed of coming down that last fairway on a Sunday afternoon, the last group in The Open Championship.
“I can draw on my experiences at the Olympic Club a few weeks ago, in the last group of the U.S. Open.
“I took a huge amount of positives away from Olympic. It reminded me that I’m able to control my emotions correctly. I’m able to stay in the moment.”
Visualising himself with the Claret Jug is a positive exercise and something he doesn’t deny doing.
“There’s no doubt I think we all read books about how powerful the brain is, and if you feed the brain with good thoughts and good images, it’s fairly good at delivering,” he said. “I’m probably not the only man in this field that’s thought about picking this Claret Jug up, and a few of these guys have had the opportunity to do it a few times.
“But there’s no doubt I can pretty much imagine what it would feel like. I’ve already thought about a few various liquids that I’d like to put in there and taste what they might taste like out of the Claret Jug.”