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Graeme McDowell Photo by: Google Images

McDowell vows to follow Clarke’s lead and keep Claret Jug in Irish hands

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Graeme McDowell Photo by: Google Images

Graeme McDowell wants to keep the Claret Jug in Ulster – with a little help from his hero Seve Ballesteros.

The former US Open champion is four shots off the lead but in second place going into the final round of the British Open.

McDowell will go out alongside Australian leader Adam Scott in the final round on Sunday afternoon at Lytham.

He’s ready to follow in Darren Clarke’s footsteps and bring the most famous trophy in golf back to Portrush for the second time in a year.

And the late, great Seve will be an inspiration as McDowell bids to emulate 2011 winner Clarke after the 32-year-old fired an impressive 67 on Saturday.

McDowell said: “I think since I was a young boy I’ve dreamed of coming down that last fairway on a Sunday afternoon, the last group in The Open Championship.

“And I can draw on my experiences at the Olympic Club a few weeks ago, in the last group of the U.S. Open.

“All I can do is dream big, and I certainly will be dreaming big. I’ll go out there and try and control my emotions and try and control my ball and maybe hole a few putts and give myself a chance.”
Spanish legend Ballesteros won at Lytham and will inspire McDowell in Sunday’s final round.

He added: “I watched this documentary about Seve who has always been one of my great heroes, and it was truly inspirational.

“Everyone remembers how he famously made birdie from the temporary car park on 16 when he won his first Open here, but there was so much more to love about what he did here.

“I was particularly impressed by a scene when someone pointed out that  Lytham is notorious for its pot bunkers, and they had to be avoided at all costs.

“Seve just pumped out his chest and said: ‘Don’t even mention such things to me, don’t you know that I am the finest bunker player in all the world’.

“I thought to myself: ‘Yes, that’s the mindset you need for Lytham, positive as hell’. I came here in really upbeat mood, and I’ve managed to keep that mindset. It’s certainly working for me so far.”

McDowell has also revealed he wants to keep the Claret Jug in Irish hands.
He said: “I replied to a tweet of Darren’s at the end of last week, and he was getting a few snaps and a few family portraits done with the Claret Jug. And some of the photos were pretty cool.

“And I said to him, I’ve got a funny feeling that we’ll maybe be  bringing that Claret Jug back to Northern Ireland next week. I was talking really from the opportunities that myself and him and Rory and Michael Hoey and the quality of players we have in Northern Ireland.

“I was talking about us as a whole having an opportunity to bring that back. And I guess it would be fairly prophetic if I happened to get the job done.

“There’s no doubt Darren will be an inspiration and someone that I’ll think about a little bit. But like I say, I can’t let the emotions get ahead of me. I’ve got to stay in the present. And like I say, if I get that chance, so be it.

“But I’ve got a lot of quality players to beat. I’ve got a fairly quality golf course and a pretty large job ahead.”

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