Glashedy Links a tougher test than expected: Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell tees off to a full gallery on the 8th
Graeme McDowell tees off to a full gallery on the 8th

Graeme McDowell admitted The Glashedy Links at Ballyliffin Golf Club had proven a bigger test than some may have anticipated for this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Championship.

McDowell safely negotiated his way into this morning’s third round with a one-over par round yesterday to leave him level par for the tournament being staged in Co Donegal.

The Portrush man had earlier in the week predicted that a score of minus-20 could be recorded over the weekend.

However, it has proven a bigger test than some may have thought with minus-eight the clubhouse lead after two rounds.

“I underestimated it from a trickiness point of view,” acknowledged McDowell.

“Very hard to get the ball in play off the tee. A lot of threading off the tee, bunkers are in play, and greens are tough to get close to and hole putts. Greens are perfect, and yet no one can seem to make a putt out there.

“The greens are tough to read. Really good test of golf and like I say, slightly underestimated.

However he was still happy with how his first two rounds had gone.

“Very pleased,” exclaimed McDowell. “It would have been disappointing, only seven, eight shots off the tee, not a nice one to be sitting on the couch this weekend.

“You can’t make a move on the couch, but you can get out here tomorrow morning and I really feel there is a low score to be had.”

McDowell still believes there is a 63 or 64 out there, even if he is having to grind it out himself over the past two days.

“I’m enjoying it,” he said.

“ I’m not enjoying how I’m hitting it off the tee Sprayed it all over the joint the last couple days, not even with driver, that’s with three-wood and five-wood.

“I have to get those under control this weekend to have a chance to score and I feel like if you hit a lot of fairways, you can score.

“I really feel like my iron play is in great shape. I’ve just not given myself a chance you know, definitely room for improvement and I certainly feel like the putter can definitely heat up a little bit this week.

“ Like I say, I believe there is a 63, 64 out there. No one has just managed to do it yet, I don’t think, and I think that’s what makes for an intriguing weekend.”

As for the course and the weather McDowell added: “This is great. I’m just really happy for The Irish Open, Dubai Duty Free and everyone involved and especially Ballyliffin. This is going to look great on TV. They have a very underrated little track up here.

“It will look fantastic and hopefully lots of people can couple up here and visit.

“Hopefully the weather keeps up,” he said.