Feb 17, 2018: Graeme McDowell was being interviewed on Sky Sports this week when the UK network posted a graphic showing his track record at Riviera. Second round of Genesis Open at Riviera also got suspended due to darkness, which will tee-off again by third day at 07:30 am.
“Didn’t make for very great reading,” G-Mac said. “I was like, ‘Please, switch that off.’”
In five previous trips to this week’s Genesis Open host course, McDowell has three missed cuts and a best result of T-41. Of those first 14 rounds, just two were in the 60s.
The results are surprising given that Riviera is Hogan’s Alley, a course that should favor shotmakers such as McDowell. Although recent winners like defending champ Dustin Johnson and two-time champ Bubba Watson are among the TOUR’s longest hitters, McDowell doesn’t consider Riviera a bomber’s course – at least not this week. He said the dry weather has firmed up the course, forcing the big hitters to scale back and giving the shorter hitters such as G-Mac a chance to succeed in tougher scoring conditions.
He’s making the most of it. Through two rounds, McDowell is 7 under, his 5-under 66 on Friday vaulting him into a tie with first-round co-leader Patrick Cantlay and Sam Saunders, who still has three holes left before finishing his second round. The 66 ties for G-Mac’s lowest round in his last 21 TOUR starts.
“This is the first real dry year I can remember being here for the last four or five, and I think the firmness of the golf course is taking guys by surprise,” McDowell said. “… Historically, I’ve played well in tough setups. I’m relishing the opportunity to continue playing this tough set-up this week. I like my game plan; I’ve just got to keep executing.”
The confidence is good to hear from McDowell, who entered this week ranked 219th in the world. After he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, he was ranked 13th and eventually rose to sixth. The last few years have been discouraging – his last top-3 finish was third place at The RSM Classic in 2015.
“Of course, it’s tough to fight off,” McDowell said. “This game is very difficult and you do ask yourself some deep, dark questions sometimes.”
His goal now is to stay out of his own way and not dwell on the negatives. He calls it “Dustin Johnson golf.”
“Have that carefree attitude, have that ‘I’m really good at this game’ and get out of your own way and let your talent come through a little bit,” G-Mac explained. “I might try and keep that going this weekend. He’s pretty good.”