From champion of Wales to champion of America. It has a certain ring to it. With apologies to Celtic Manor, Graeme McDowell is in prime position to upgrade the Wales Open title he won at the Ryder Cup venue two weeks ago with victory at Pebble Beach.
After rounds of 71 and 68, the Northern Irishman is three-under-par and pumped, as they say in these parts.
“You know, I’d be lying if I hadn’t thought about picking up the trophy on Sunday afternoon. I think that’s only natural,” he said. “But I’m trying to be very realistic about it, as well. When I came off the back of Madrid and Wales being around 30-under-par and you come in here and recognise that par is a good score, you’ve got to keep your head on and find the fairways and greens.”
McDowell did just that, and believes par could still be the winning score. He is three shots ahead of his game plan. McDowell said that winning in Wales has made him feel different about his game. “It has been a huge springboard of confidence,” he said.
“I feel relaxed and in control. I’m probably as ready to go into the weekend of a major as I’ve ever been,” he said. “Is this weekend my weekend? I have no idea, but if I get a sniff Sunday afternoon I’ll be ready for it.”
What would it mean to him to join the illustrious list of winners at this venue? “I couldn’t even name one, apart from Tiger Woods, obviously, in 2000,” McDowell said honestly. “You know, I’m not a massive golf historian, I’d be lying if I said I was.”
Oh well, nobody’s perfect.