Crooner Graeme okay after trip

Graeme McDowell is hoping to hit the high notes again in the Ballantine’s Championship despite a marathon trip from Florida to South Korea.

The defending champion, 29, celebrated his first win for four years last season by singing a karaoke version of Danny Boy at a post tournament party that dragged into the small hours.

Graeme McDowell was delayed at the airport en route to the Ballantine's Championship. Relax. This is just a publicity shot.But after taking more than 50 hours to get from his Orlando base to wind-lashed Pinx Golf Club on Jeju Island, he knows that he'll have to be on song to triumph again in an event that is being played six weeks later than last year.

Facing deeper rough and stronger winds this time, McDowell said: “It’s going to be more of a test. I don’t think there are going to be any 24 under par efforts this week.

“It is a lot more difficult with a little more rough and the wind has decided to turn up this time around.

“Defending the title is a nice feeling but it doesn’t give you the right to go out and win again. So if I am going to win again, I have got to go out and earn it.”

McDowell was affected by the weather before he even arrived as high winds led to flight cancellations that delayed his arrival until Tuesday morning.

He explained: "I left on Saturday and got into Seoul on Sunday night after a 20 hour flight. Then I had a flight to Jeju on Monday morning which was cancelled and another flight in the afternoon which was cancelled.

"I ended up getting here on Tuesday morning but to be honest I used Monday as a rest day at the hotel to get the jet lag out of the system and it was no big deal.  I am feeling pretty good, pretty fresh."

McDowell beat Jeev Milkha Singh at the third tie hole last year after both men finish seven shots clear of Paul McGinley on 24 under par.

But this time he faces an even tougher field with McGinley coming back to form and three-time major winner Ernie Els joined by Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood.

McDowell is not expecting a birdie barrage this year but he’s feeling fresh and ready to go after pacing himself by playing just six events this term.

Buoyed by finishing top European at the Masters, McDowell said: “Augusta was good but I have been frustrated early in the season because I am not playing the golf I’d like to be playing.

“The good thing is that I am conserving energy, feeling fresh and looking forward to a big run of events in Europe over the next few weeks with the 3 Irish Open, the BMW at Wentworth and the European Open.”

As for his karaoke skills and the chances of hearing him sing Danny Boy again on Sunday, he beamed: “My Danny Boy is not much better than 13 months ago, but I will give it a shot.”