Leaden hands and the lightning fast greens of Augusta National are never a good combination but Graeme McDowell battled back brilliantly from a horror start to open with a three over par 75 in his third Masters.

Five years ago, McDowell made his bow at the Cathedral of Pines with a 79 and fought back to come within a shot of making the cut.

This time he could easily have been forgiven for slumping to a score in the 80s when he went from one under after two to six over through 12 holes on a day of swirling winds.

But he showed his fighting qualities and after a two putt birdie at the 13th, he holed birdie putts of 12 and three feet at the 16th and 18th to keep his hopes of making the cut alive.

“I got off to a horrible start and didn’t feel like myself at all,” McDowell said. “I struggled on the greens and the speed was definitely a couple of feet quicker than yesterday and I didn’t get to grips with them at all with a couple of careless three putts.

“Doubled four and bogeyed six with another three-putt and then on seven I tried to do too much out of the left trees and made double there. 

“All of a sudden I am off to horror start and had to hang in there and it was nice to make a couple of birdies coming in so it keeps me thereabout. Something in the 60s tomorrow keeps me in there.”

McDowell believes that yesterday’s fightback shows how far he has progressed as a player since his 2005 debut.

“Give me that five years ago and I’ll shoot 80,” he said. “But it still hurts. 

“I was walking up eight and I hit it left in the trees with my second shot. It is very hard to grind it out from there. But you always know there are a few chances on the back nine at Augusta.”

After holing out from just three feet at the last he said: “I am reasonably satisfied that I dug something out there but there is a still a little bit of disappointment.

“They had the place set up for scoring. But I have no complaints. My head was definitely spinning on the seventh. I just couldn’t make a putt. 

“I hit some sloppy shots and it was nice to make some birdies coming home. I have got a head full of this pollen and I am not feeling myself this week. But you can’t make excuses.”

Having watched his beloved Manchester United eliminated from the Champions League by Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, McDowell was not in great form going out.

“I am a little upset about the Champions League result,” he said, fishing a ball marker from his pocket. “I still used a Man United marker on the greens. So maybe that is what happens.”