McDowell's strong finish at RBC Canadian Open earns him spot in Open Championship
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Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley
Graeme McDowell closes with clutch par at RBC Canadian
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“I think I had reasonable belief in myself that I was going to be able to take care of it one of these weeks. Obviously as the pressure started to build, it was going to be more difficult as it went along,” he admitted. “Obviously very proud to have got one of the Open Championship spots and get that little monkey off my back and let me go and play some golf the next few weeks.”
McDowell said earlier in the week he had accepted his fate as it pertained to The Open. If he played well, he said, he’d be in. If he didn’t, he’d be OK.
He didn’t have to worry.
After a 2-under 68 Sunday at the RBC Canadian Open, part of The Open Qualifying Series, he’s in – along with Canadian Adam Hadwin, who also earned a qualifying spot after finishing sixth.
McDowell, who said he’s played Royal Portrush between 300-500 times, didn’t make qualifying easy on himself. He flared his approach on the par-4 18th – playing as the most difficult hole of the day – and ended up in the long rough near a bunker. He chipped it on, but had just over 29 feet for par. It was a curling, difficult putt – a “1-in-10,” McDowell said – but he drained it, and dropped to his knees in celebration.
“The putt was not makeable, no. The putt had 12 feet of break on it,” said McDowell. “It was a ridiculously tough putt to make. Just fancied it, I saw it, liked the way it looked, and when I saw it go in it was a huge relief.”
McDowell won his first PGA TOUR title in four years at the Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, but the victory didn’t guarantee a spot in The Open. He was near the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, another tournament in The Open Qualifying Series, but faded.
He opened with a 5-under 65 this week at Hamilton Golf and Country Club – a course, he said, that fit his game – and backed that up with rounds of 67-70-68 to finish T-8, his fourth top-10 of the year.
He knew he was trying to contend Sunday, but he couldn’t shake the thought of getting into The Open.
“You're out there playing for a lot of FedExCup Cup points,” he said, “and all I can focus on is trying to get exempt for The Open Championship. I might go to Portrush and miss the cut and think, ‘what was all that about?’”
McDowell, who admitted he’s just excited to have the freedom to play well over the next few weeks, including at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach – where he won in 2010 – to get ready for a big week in his hometown.
Although that is still weeks away, he was already feeling the hometown love this week in Canada.
“There are lots of Northern Irish people here. It’s a unique part of the world. Lots of Irish support, and people are always really nice to me up here,” he said. “Certainly enjoyed my week.”
And now, he has another special week to look forward to in July.