By Brian Keogh
Graeme McDowell believes Europe's top stars are running scared of the Irish weather.
As he stood on the soggy driving range at The K Club with his place in The Open safely tucked away, the Ulsterman reflected on the weakest European Open field in years.
He said: "The field is so weak, it's terrible. They just don't want to play. They are scared off by the weather they got in the Irish Open I think.
"It's terrible. This is the weakest field we've seen at The K Club for years. It's not what the Irish people want to see or what we want to see.
"What can we do? Move the Irish Open to Spain? We're just jinxed with the weather. There's not a damned thing you can do about it. It's just unfortunate."
A native of windy Portrush in Northern Ireland, McDowell is not too worried about what the weather can throw at him this week.
And he hopes he can carry on with the form that saw win the Qualifier for the Open at Sunningdale by two shots on Monday.
While he is physically tired after his exertions in Berkshire, McDowell had no intention of skipping this week's test.
And he's hoping that his natural combative game will kick in and prevent him becoming another victim of the weather, as Padraig Harrington has predicted.
He said: "I can't take this week off. This is the K Club. I've got my mum and dad and other people down here watching me. It never crossed my mind to pull out this week.
"Certainly I'd have enjoyed a decent week's weather but you've got to battle through it.
"I agree with Padraig completely. You are only playing 25 per cent of the field and you can write the rest off.
"You just have to make sure you are not one of the guys written off, even though mentally you don't think you are you have got to keep building yourself up; keep reminding yourself you've not got to beat everybody this week.
"Obviously, it's about controlling your ball flight. You've got to be able to move your irons round, hold it up against the wind and knock it down.
"Patience is key and obviously bogeys are going to be made, doubles are going to be made, so you've got to try and stay patient and keep getting yourself up for it. Sometimes it's hard to do."
McDowell missed the cut in his first appearance at the Smurfit Course in 2004 but came home tied 26th last year.
And he knows the dangers of a track that boasts three inch rough and water galore.
He said: "Once you get off the beaten track there's some hay out there. I know that from the past. It's soft and long and tough and you've got to try not to be one of the guys who are beaten before they tee it up."