"Mental case" McDowell a victim of high expectations

Graeme McDowell said: “I’m disappointed in myself and in my mental approach.” Picture Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ieGutted Graeme McDowell confessed that he was “a bit of a mental case” after he ran out of fight and crashed to a nightmare 77 to miss the cut in the Open.

The former US Open champion failed to make even one birdie in a seven-over effort that left him two shots outside the cut mark on five over par.

Admitting that his own high expectations might be weighing heavily on him, McDowell said: “My expectations are maybe a little too high at the minute.  I need to get back to grinding out rounds and turning 75s into 70s and 77s into 72s and 73s.  That was just bad today.

“My technique is all there, everything is all there.  There’s just something going on.  Maybe my expectation level is putting a little too much pressure on myself.

“This is The Open.  We are under pressure.  We want to do well.  Maybe I’m trying a little too hard the last couple days.”

He added: “I’ve always enjoyed the mental side of the game but I wouldn’t say I’m enjoying it so much right now because I’m a bit of a mental case out there.”    

McDowell had the season of his life last year, winning four tournaments including the US Open as well as the Ryder Cup for Europe.

But while didn’t take a long winter break and has struggled to put four solid rounds together all season, he admitted that his stellar 2010 campaign has been a hard act to follow.

He said: “It’s hard not to compare to last year.  I mean, I didn’t set out in 2011 trying to eclipse 2010, no doubt about it, but deep inside, I know I can do it. Maybe I want it too badly.  

“I need to take a close look at how I am thinking at the minute because I’m not thinking very well.

“When things are going right it’s easy to think well.  When things aren’t going so well it’s very difficult to think well.  You can’t wait for the golf ball to make you feel happy because it ain’t going to make you feel happy every day.

“I’m disappointed in myself and in my mental approach.  I’m not disappointed in my game.”

He was tied for sixth after the first round thanks to a dramatic back nine comeback that gave him a super 68.

But he was never at the races yesterday, three-putting three times as he carded five bogeys and a double bogey in the middle of his round.

Lamenting his lack of fight, he said: “I just don’t have that dig deep in me at the minute; it’s weird.  It’s very unlikely.  I’ve had a half a dozen rounds in the high 70s this year.  

“It’s not me.  It’s not my kind of golf, so I need to have a look at my mental approach a little bit.”

His poor form on the greens has been a feature this term and he confessed that it’s been one of his biggest headaches.

He said: “I’m not holing enough putts in the six to 10 foot range.  That was my strength last year when I won the US Open.  I holed everything in that range.  

“And this year I’m just not holing a lot of putts in that range.  They are huge, especially on a week like this.  

“I made a couple yesterday which hung me in there, and today I just got no momentum at all and just completely imploded.”

While he works with mental coach Dr Bob Rotella, he wondered if he might needs to book some extra hours with the American guru as he faces a busy period ahead of the US PGA.

He said: “I’ve always enjoyed the mental side of the game, and I wouldn’t say I’m enjoying it so much right now because I’m a bit of a mental case out there.  

“I mean, I love this game and I’m working my ass off and I’m working hard and continue to work hard, but I’m just not putting it into play right now.  It’s disappointing.

“I couldn’t have had a better preparation three days than I had for this golf tournament.  I went out yesterday and I had very little belief in myself.”

While Darren Clarke appears to have benefited from his chats with Rotella, McDowell smiled and said: “Maybe I need to do a little more work with him, get on the couch and tell him all my problems.”