McDowell is ‘under no illusion’ Lytham has yet to bear its teeth

Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell believes he has put himself in a good position to challenge for the Open this week after a mixed first-round 67.

His three-under-par total left him three off the lead set by Australian Adam Scott and despite a scrappy end to his round, with two bogeys in the closing four holes and a fortunate escape for par on the 17th, the 2010 US Open champion was happy enough.

“I’ve played in plenty of these things to learn that you’ve got to enjoy them, you’ve got to try to enjoy them,” said the 32-year-old.

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“Let’s be honest, if you don’t play well, it’s hard to enjoy them.

“You’ve got to get in a relaxed frame of mind, get your attitude correct for the day and accept that you’re going to make mistakes.

“I did that well and I reacted well to my mistakes generally – that’s all you can ask for.

“After all the chat about conditions and how difficult this golf course is and how much rain and wind there is going to be it was weird standing out there on about the ninth tee box looking around in shirt sleeves at guys being four, five and six under.

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“It was a pretty benign start to the week but I’m under no illusion that this golf course has teeth and it could be a sleeping giant for sure.

“I’ve got a little bit of work to do on my full swing, I wasn’t really 100 per cent in control of it, but we’ll be ready (for today).

“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t challenge.”

A bogey at the par-four sixth handed back the shot he had picked up on the third but he immediately carded three successive birdies to turn in 31.

A further birdie at the long 11th lifted him to four under but he dropped shots at 15 and 18, having birdied the 16th.

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“Eventful is the way to describe the last few holes,” said McDowell, who missed the 17th fairway so far right he was close to the food concessions but still managed to salvage par.

“I did the hard part on 15: I made a great drive down there, missed my six-iron right of the green where I shouldn’t have been, and then 17 I just kind of tried to steer my tee shot up there and blocked it but made a great four in the end.

“The last was just a little bit of a try not to lose it left and I kind of squirted it out. But, all in all, I’m happy with three under.”

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