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Straight talking Trevino backs G-Mac: “If you don't drive it in the fairway, you don't have the key”

Lee Trevino. (Copyright USGA/Joel Kowsky) No-one talks US Open at Merion like Lee Trevino - the man who threw a rubber snake at Jack Nicklaus in that Monday playoff in 1971 and walked away with his second national open in four years.

It’s been three years since Graeme McDowell won the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach but SuperMex, a man with a highly personal swing, see a lot of himself in the big-hearted Portrush star. Karma? Co-incidence? Trevino doesn’t think so.

“I love Graeme,” he said with a grin as wide at the US-Mexico border. “He’s just like me. He’s got a lot of guts. Graeme has got a shot here.”

Trevino also fancies Rory McIlroy to make a run at his second US Open but he warned the Holywood star — and Tiger Woods - that they must keep it on the short grass if they are to emulate his playoff win over Nicklaus 42 years ago this week.

“McIlroy also has a shot but only because they will be able to keep that driver away from him,” Trevino insisted. “Rory and Tiger will spray it a little bit. They want to hit it 390 and you gotta hit the fairways.

“Remember one thing, you can have the finest car in the world and if you don’t have the key, you don’t go anywhere.

“If you don’t drive it in the fairway, you don’t have the key.”

Tiger Woods plays a tee shot on the 14th hole during a practice round at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll) Whatever about his feelings about Woods, Trevino’s liking for McDowell was echoed by fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke, who sees the straight-hitting Portrush man as one of the leading contenders for the title alongside McIlroy.

“You have both Rory and Graeme who are world class players, that goes without saying and accuracy and getting his ball around the course is right up G-Mac’s street and this course should suit him,” Clarke said.

“Rory can win anywhere at any stage, he has got the most talent. He seems to be swinging and hitting the ball much better and either of those two could figure this week.”

Clarke is bracing himself for a tough US Open return having missed last year’s edition at Olympic Club through injury.

His game has been hit and miss this year and with the course playing long and soft, he’s expecting tough test in what will be just his seventh start of the year.

He said: “I’ve played here quite a few times in the past and the times I have played it’s been hard and fast and with the angles of the fairways the ball had a tendency to run into the rough.

“Now if you hit it straight the ball is going to semi-plug and stay in the fairways.

“In one way it’s going to play a little bit easier but the longer holes are going to play much longer so you have to balance it up. But it’s still going to be a very good tough, tough test.

“There’s obviously been a lot of rain and it’s going to be a wet week and I can’t really see it drying up any time soon but the course is still tough and there are a lot of shots to be hit.

“When the holes are short they’re very short and when they’re long they’re very long.

“That sounds a little bit silly but that’s just the way the course is going to play this week.”

With just six events under his belt this year, Clarke has no idea what to expect from his own game.

He said: “I’m hitting it nicely, but it’s a bit of a broken record. I keep saying it but my scoring just hasn’t been there.

“I can practice all I want and hit it as well as I want to in practice, I just have to score a little bit better. If I can do that this week then we’ll see.”