McDowell gets second wind

Graeme McDowell wouldn’t be surprised to see yet another 59 on the PGA Tour  in this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The US Open champion predicted that someone would smash the 60 barrier for the first time in Europe at last week’s 3 Irish Open in Killarney.

He wasn’t proved wrong in the end but after seeing Paul Goydos and Stuart Appleby shoot 59 on the US Tour in the past month, he doesn’t believe it’s impossible at daunting Firestone Country Club.

McDowell said: “I didn’t know a couple of guys had already shot 61s around here and there is definitely less rough than normal.

“If you get a day like today where it’s been raining and the greens are receptive, it could be on.

“I was proved wrong last week. I thought someone would do it in Killarney but the greens weren’t quite good enough for a 59. And they tucked the pins away.

“Shooting 59 is all about the conditioning of the golf course and putting. You can only hit the golf ball so well but at some stage you have got to hole some putts and greens here are awesome.”

McDowell has been paired with Padraig Harrington for the second week in a row with Rory McIlroy set to partner US Masters champion Phil Mickelson.

And while Garrington is not expecting a 59 in Akron, he reckons the game of golf has become much more of a sprint that it once was.

Harrington explained: “There is no hanging back. That doesn’t seem to cut it any more. You have to go all out and take your chances.

“It is not a patience game any more. It is about going out there and going hell for leather after it, trying to make as many birdies as you can.

“You have to go all out and take your chances. Ultimately, players know that if they are six under after nine, there is no point in hanging on down the back nine.

“They have got to keep pushing forward  because that is the only way they are going to win.”

McDowell believes the game has changed completely in recent years and he’s not surprised to see lower and lower scores.

After watching pal Rory McIlroy blast a 63 in the Open, McDowell added: “The game has changed. It’s not about laying up to the nice 100 yards any more.

“Guys just go for absolutely everything. They are so much longer off the tee and you just can’t tuck pins away any more.

“Outside of the majors, the modern day golfer just hits it as far as he can and then goes looking for the flag.”

McDowell has failed to spark since he made his major breakthrough at Pebble Beach in June.

He’s still coming to terms with his status as one of the game’s elite but believes he slowly getting back to normal.

Hoping he can turn the corner in Akron, he said: “I just had my best practice session for five weeks and I’m really happy to get over here after a few hectic weeks.

“I’m starting to feel good about myself both mentally and physically and I feel my game coming round again. I’m ready to go.

“I always joked that if I won a major you wouldn’t see me for dust because I’d be lying on a beach somewhere sipping cocktails. But I’ve got a lot of goals still to achieve. I’m leading the Race to Dubai and with the Ryder Cup coming up.

“I’ve been trying hard for the last three weeks and it hasn’t happened for me but I’m slowly feeling better and better about my game and I’m excited to be here and to get to Whistling Straits for the US PGA next week.”