Attack the best form of Augusta defence for confident McDowell

Attack the best form of Augusta defence for confident McDowell
 Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell believes that controlled aggression could hold the key to unlocking his Masters mystery and finally give him a chance of fulfilling his boyhood dream.

A cursory look at the Portrush star’s Masters record is enough to bring a tear to the eye — just two cuts made from six starts.

But while he’s praying that the rain that lashed the course on Monday will have dried up by Friday, he knows he has to be more aggressive with his plan of attack if he is to have any chance of slipping into a green jacket, size 40 short.

“I'm not sure I have ever come into the Masters in better form than I am right now,” said McDowell, who has been drawn with Americans Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler for the first two rounds.

“You don't want to be coming in and trying to be too much of a perfectionist here and I have played this golf course too defensively in the past. 

“So I think I can be more aggressive to certain pins. You can't be kamikaze to tough pins and you have to respect some of them. 

“You are going to make mistakes — it is inevitable —  so you have to play aggressively enough to make birdies to offset those mistakes.”

McDowell has dreamt of pulling on the green jacket since he was a small boy watching the Masters coverage on TV in Portrush.   

And with an Irishman winning every major that Tiger Woods has missed over the last seven years — Pádraig Harrington (twice), Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke won four majors with Woods out injured — he reckons it could be his turn.

Winner of the 2010 US Open with Woods in the field, G-Mac beamed: “I did read that stat and it's a pretty incredible stat and let’s hope that pattern continues. Is it my turn? It might be. Who knows. 

“Winning the Masters is every boy's golfing dream. It's a tough toss up between the Claret Jug and the green jacket for me when it comes to which major I would like to win next. Being honest, I'd love to win any of the four of them next. 

“But the green jacket, because you come back to this place, because of the history and the conditioning and everything that Augusta means, the European drought here, this would be a bit special. 

"I think everyone has got their own personal story as to what the Masters means to then but for me it was as a young kid starved of golf both on TV and growing up in Portrush, where the weather over the winter was not so good. 

“It was all about the Wednesday preview coming on the TV and Steve Rider was a face we all knew. The weather was just turning there on the north coast of Ireland it just got the golf bug going. 

“This golf course is one of the few that's ever lived up to my expectations. I thought it would be amazing and when I came here and played it, it just blew me away.”

McDowell has made a hot start the year, racking up five Top-10 finishes in six starts en route to topping the putting charts in the US.

But as one of the shorter hitters in the field, he knows he is going to have to produce his top drawer golf on and around the greens after heavy rain lashed the course on Monday.

“People talk about putting here but the chipping and pitching is just as key,” he said. “Chipping and bunker play are big for me because that means you can take on the flags a bit more and if you are chipping well, you are not so scared of missing flags. 

“Okay, it is not my best major championship by any stretch of the imagination but I am playing better and better every year. 

“I am more experienced and I know more and more about this golf course, so I am looking forward to the challenge. 

“I am coming in here with my expectations nicely in check because of my record. I feel good. I am nice and chilled and looking forward to the week."

Monday's heavy rain has made the course more of a beast for McDowell but he's praying it dries out as the week goes on. 

He said: “This bit of rain will not have helped my chances off the tee but this place drains well and we have two dry days coming up. 

“I just have to drive it good. Keep it in the fairways. Don't try to take on too much. Don't try to force it. Don't try to drive the ball. Just let it happen and have a bit of fun.”