McDowell wants Open in Ireland

From Brian Keogh at Carnoustie

Graeme McDowell says he'd love to win the Open - in Ireland!

But he confessed that what he'd really wants to see is the back of Tiger Woods.

With 12 big ones already in the bag, Woods has won more majors than McDowell has even played.

And McDowell, 27, just wishes the American would hurry up and beat Jack Nicklaus's major record and give the mere mortals a chance of some glory.

While he's not admitting defeat at Carnoustie this week and says he's ready to go toe-to-toe with Woods for the Claret Jug, McDowell knows that the chances of victory are halved with Tiger in the field.

McDowell said: "I played with Tiger over in Japan in 2002, which was pretty special. He’s the man and I think we’ll all look back in 30 or 40 years time and think that we were all very privileged to be playing on the same planet as the greatest player the world has ever seen. No doubt about it.

"But I hope he moves on quick and gives the rest of us a chance. I hope he gets to 18, 20 or however many of these he is going to win and wins them quick and gets out of our way. He’s good, there’s no doubt about it, he’s good.

"Is it impossible to win a major with him in the field? No, it’s not impossible but it’s tougher. The guy is always going to be in the top ten and he doesn’t know how to lose."

McDowell would settle for any of the four majors and while St Andrews is the venue when he wins the Open in his dreams, he'd love to see the Championship return to his home at Royal Portrush

Logistics have prevented the Open returning the Ulster course since Max Faulkner's victory in 1951.

But McDowell sees no reason why his home town shouldn't host the biggest golf tournament in the world.

He said: "I’d love to see Portrush set up this big. It really is a dream of mine to tee it up at Portrush in a British Open. Whether that will happen in my career, who knows.

"You look at some of the Open venues logistically and there’s not too many places in Ireland that are much worse. If you get the time and the funding, you can pretty much custom-build the place. You can put in logistics, put in a few hotels and building-up the roads system.

"It may never happen in my career but I’d dearly love to do it. I dream of contending at a British Open, of winning one and of playing it in Ireland. That’d be nice."

Contending this week is well on the cards for McDowell, who was 11th at St Andrews two years ago and led after the first round last year.

He produced Sunday charges in his last two events at the K Club and Loch Lomond and and he sees no reason why he can't do the same this week and ease the pain of last year's Open at Hoylake, where he faded to 61st and even had an air-shot on the way.

Woods completely demoralised McDowell by streaking six clear of him with a superb 65 in the second round.

And McDowell admits that the game's top player is simply a class apart no matter what the venue.

He said: "Last year I learned it's no good leading on the Thursday night - I’d rather be leading on the Sunday night.

"But I felt like I handled it very well. If it wasn’t for the fact that Tiger went nuts that week I felt like I would have been right up there and contending at the weekend.

"I got a little bit demoralised, I think Tiger shot a 65 and I shot one over which was by no means throwing it away but all of a sudden I was six back.

"And six behind Tiger when he’s in that sort of form is a little difficult. Suddenly from leading overnight I was out of the tournament just about and it didn’t really give me a chance to follow it up.

"I played a lot of golf last year and I didn’t really have the mental toughness to hang in there last year."

While he has just 10 majors under his belt, McDowell believes he has served his apprenticeship and sees no reason why he can't hope to go head to head with Woods and beat him.

He added: "I’d love the chance to do it but no one can deny the fact that he is head and shoulders above anyone else in the world right now.

"I feel like I’ve served my apprenticeship in the Majors. I led last year briefly and I feel like if I play well this week, there’s no reason why I can’t contend on Sunday. That’s how I feel after contending in the last two weeks and I’m here to do the same this week.

"Tiger on the back nine on Sunday? Maybe that’s another apprenticeship you have got to serve. You know, down the stretch, back nine with Tiger on Sunday at a Major, with anybody in a Major, that’s what I’m dreaming of. I'm sure I can handle it."

Straight-hitting McDowell wishes the course was more punishing off the tee but fears the field will be levelled by the lack of rough.

He said: "At Hoylake, because of the way the greens were set up, the only guy in the field that was able to lay back was Tiger and we were all forced to take on the bunkers.

"This week the greens are not as punishing. There is not much rough so guys will be able to be a bit more aggressive off the tee, take the bunkers out of play and that is what Tiger is going to be doing.

"Take bunkers out of play, rough is not the end of the world. Stay out of the bunkers and you are okay. Whoever plays these last four holes the best this week will win the tournament."