From Brian Keogh at Oakmont
Graeme McDowell believes he must find some short game magic if he is to win a major title
As he battled to clinch a top 15 finish and an automatic US Open return at Torrey Pines next year, McDowell confessed that he must become a wedge magician to conquer the vicious greenside round in the US Majors,
Eight shots adrift of leader Aaron Baddeley starting the day, McDowell said: "Generally I don’t think my short game is good enough to compete at this level in this type of set-up.
"I really need to get back to the drawing board a little bit, learn how to get it up and down from these tougher lies around the greens and get it close on these fast surfaces.
"It’s been a little bit of an eye-opener for me. I know my long game is good enough to compete at this level - by a long stretch my long game is good enough.
"It’s just shows me to win a Major, which I certainly hope to achieve in my career, I’ve just got to improve my short game."
"I feel like that’s the missing link right now. It’s nothing major. Not a complete rethink.
Just 27 and with 10 major championship appearances under his belt already, McDowell knows that he is probably being a little too hard on himself.
Only Tiger Woods, who was two strokes adrift of the leader starting the day, had hit more greens in regulation than McDowell entering the final round.
He conceded: "I guess I’m being a little bit over critical. But I’m a golfer after all and we are very critical on ourselves.
"My long game I can’t complain at all. I’ve hit some fantastic irons this week and hit them really well. But, as I say, this is a really stern test around the greens.
"I really feel like I’m putting fantastically well. But I need to get a little bit more loft on my wedge around the greens and I just need to get a little bit of confidence and know how the ball is going to react a little bit more."
McDowell has had to moments to remember at Oakmont - including two monster putts on the toughest major championship greens around.
In Friday's second round he coaxed in a 75 footer at the first green for birdie.
Then on Saturday night he rolled home a 50 footer for eagle after driving the 17th green.
He added: "I’m not trying to sound overly negative about my short game. I’ve taken some seriously good positives to take away from this week. I feel like I’m learning a lot about what needs to improve in my game.
"I’m willing to learn and I feel like I’ve been speaking too negatively about my short game over the past two days because everyone else out there is absolutely tearing their hair out around the greens this week.
“It’s absolutely brutal. There’s no one in complete control of their ball around the greens here, absolutely none.
"As long as I don’t take the negatives to heart too much and beat myself up too much I'll be alright.
"I’ve got a great team around me right now, my caddie especially. He’s out there. He watches me hit all the shots.
"He’s worked with great players like Paul Casey, Thomas Bjorn. He’s been banging on at me for a long, long time how Thomas chips and how he gets it up and down."