G-Mac bows to Rory: "I’m envious and respectful and appreciative of the curly haired kid”

G-Mac bows to Rory: "I’m envious and respectful and appreciative of the curly haired kid”

Graeme McDowell knows it could have been his turn. Picture Eoin Clarke, www.golffile.ie

But for a bad bounce off a marshal into a bush on Thursday, we might be talking about Graeme McDowell as Open champion. But as he knows too well, that's golf.

Still thinking about to that double bogey seven he made at the 10th on Thursday and the homeward 40 he shot that day, McDowell confessed the was envious of Rory McIlroy’s victory march but hailed his win as another triumph for Ireland’s golden generation.

The Portrush star eagled the 18th for a closing 67 that left him tied for ninth with Shane Lowry on 10 under par, boosting his chances of qualifying automatically for the Ryder Cup team.

He had double bogeyed the 15th to go back to level par but reacted with three successive birdies and a closing eagle three.

He was then left to wonder what might have been after a first round 74 derailed his title chances. But he was happy for McIlroy and even more delighted for Irish golf, which has now captured eight of the last 29 majors.

G-Mac said: “They just asked me in there what my emotions are for Rory, as I watched him walk to the 16th tee box. I used the word ‘jealousy’, but I think what I really meant was ‘envious.'

“Envious, because I'd love to walk down the 18th fairway with an opportunity to win the Claret Jug.

“I'd love it to be me. It's the greatest walk for world golf. It's in there inside me somewhere. Some year it will be my year, hopefully.”

Despite the legal bust up between McIlroy and McDowell’s management company and the tension between them, G-Mac added: “I have a huge amount of appreciation for what he's doing, respect for what he is in the game of golf and how good he is for the game of golf.

“Like I say, I’m envious and respectful and appreciative of the curly haired kid.”

Ireland has now claimed four of the last eight Open Championship and McDowell reckons this is a magical time for the game here with Royal Portrush set to stage the Open in 2019.

McDowell said: “It’s the golden generation. Eight major championships. We have Padraig Harrington, Rory and the myself and Darren adding something to the pot. 

“That's great. It's exciting. With The Open Championship announcement for Portrush and Rory here today, it's pretty exciting times.”

McDowell had bittersweet feelings about the week, especially after coming home in 40 for a damaging 74 on the first day.

Wondering what might have been, he said: “What I'd not give to go back to the 10th tee and start again on Thursday. But that's golf.

“I said at the start of the week that this venue, it was my type of venue. Not super long. Not a lot of advantage for the big boys to take trouble out of play.

“It’s an opportunity missed but could I have caught Rory? Don't know. Thursday was a killer blow at the end. It is what it is, but we'll live and learn and move on.”

He added that he was "looking forward to reading the quotes."

Whether that comment was an indictment of the sound-byte driven demands placed on the modern media in the TV age, a pervious misquote or something entirely innocent remains to be seen.

Given how well he played, the man who turns 36 next week had every right to feel disappointed, no bad sign for a man who is clearly hugely ambitious.