McDowell just four behind despite handling error: "I am like, 'OK, I just picked this ball up, what an idiot'"

McDowell just four behind despite handling error: "I am like, 'OK, I just picked this ball up, what an idiot'"
 Graeme McDowell speaks about his round and his "automatic pilot" error on the first. PGATour.com

Graeme McDowell speaks about his round and his "automatic pilot" error on the first. PGATour.com

Graeme McDowell escaped disaster after inadvertently picking up his ball but lies four shots behind American Kevin Kisner as he bids to make it back-to-back PGA Tour wins in the RSM Classic at Sea Island in Georgia.

As Kisner shot a six under 64 to lead by three shots on 16 under from Kevin Chappell with McDowell is alone in third place following a bogey free, five under par 65 and hoping a windy Sunday could bring a difficult season to the perfect conclusion.

"I played nicely today," McDowell said. "I left a couple of putts out there coming in but all in all I made a couple of clutch par saves on the front nine, which got the round going.

Graeme McDowell makes a 14 footer for birdie at the 14th

"The wind was quite gusty at times and I was very happy with the way I flighted my irons and the way I rolled it.

"I didn't roll it very well on this course on Thursday but I felt like i saw the greens better today and did putt better."I've been told about three times walking to the first tee that it was ball down today. And I literally just got into automatic pilot mode on the first fairway and before I realised it, Michael Kim is looking at me funny and I am, like, 'OK, I just picked this ball up, what an idiot.'

"It was just an automatic pilot thing to do. And there was a real game changer potential right there. I get it up and down for four but if I make bogey, who knows what happens to the round from there. So it was a big four and makes it for a better story in the end as well."

Reminded how much his game has improved since the Canadian Open, where he was forced to hit a lot of three woods off the tee just to find fairways, he said: "That was kind of where I hit rock bottom. It's been a long road back from there.

"But I have been working really hard and thankfully I have got some really good people around me to help me keep believing, keep trusting and just keep working really. So this has been the result of some confidence building, good playing, some good technical work and it's great to be back competing again."

On the prospect of winning two in a row, he looked forward to some windy weather help and said: "That would be special. There are a lot of good players on this leaderboard and the weather is going to have a big say tomorrow.

"This golf course is there for the taking if there is no wind and I'd been hoping for a little bit of wind, let's put it that way."