Graeme McDowell lived up to his promise to avoid taking a trip down memory lane after returning to the scene of his US Open triumph at Pebble Beach.
McDowell took advantage of a collapse from 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson nine years ago to win by a single shot from France’s Gregory Havret, with Ernie Els third and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sharing fourth place.
The 39-year-old was paired with Johnson and Mickelson in the first two rounds on the Monterey Peninsula this week and outscored them both with a flawless opening two-under-69, Johnson returning a 71 and six-time runner-up Mickelson shooting 72.
“My aim was just to focus hard on the golf course because playing with Dustin and Phil, it would be easy to get caught up in what they were doing,” McDowell said.
“Dustin plays a different game - that drive he hit on the last was just outrageous - so I had to focus on dissecting this golf course the way I can do it, and I felt like I did a really good job today.
“I hit a lot of fairways and hit to the right side of the pin a lot.
“I played fairly mistake-free golf until the last and then managed to clean that up as well.
“Playing with Phil trying to win the US Open and you see his intensity level, you realise you are not the only guy getting nervous and under pressure.
“Thankfully I wasn’t coming here to sight-see, well you always sight-see here, but I was coming here to compete and I am really happy with my general execution today and the way I struck the ball.
“Three more rounds like that and who knows?”
And Rickie Fowler believes he does not need to do “anything special” to get rid of the dreaded tag of best player not to have won a major.
Fowler carded a first round of 66.
“You don’t have to do anything special in majors. It’s just being disciplined and executing the shot that’s at hand and what you’re trying to do.
“It’s been a long road to get to this point.”