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Wednesday, 07 July 2010
Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell, golf's newest Major Champion, returns to The European Tour at Loch Lomond but admits there could be some rust to shake off before he is ready to contend again.

After two weeks of celebrating his stunning US Open Championship victory at Pebble Beach - Europe's first in the event since 1970 - McDowell said of The Barclays Scottish Open: "My expectations are not huge.

"This week it's about getting the body back in shape and the business head screwed back on.

"I've won around here - I just need to shake the rust out of the system.

"I've one eye on next week. I'm going to be practising very hard and I'm definitely keeping parties and celebrations to a bare minimum - there will none of that going on.

"I've made enough good swings the last few days to know that they are still in there and certainly mentally I can be ready for next week, for sure.

"I'm definitely going there with expectations of competing and playing well."

McDowell has already made a trip to The Home of Golf to see the set-up for The Open Championship starting next Thursday, and his excitement is fuelled by the fact that he shot a course record-equalling 62 there in the 2004 Dunhill Links Championship.

Whatever he says, the fact remains that he will be trying for a third successive win over the coming four days, having lifted The Celtic Manor Wales Open before flying to the States.

Not surprisingly, he has hardly been able to take a step without being congratulated for what he achieved - as was the case at the JP McManus Pro-am in west Ireland on Monday and Tuesday.

"Players and caddies and friends and Tour officials and just people I've played with have come up to me. A lot of them are sort of disbelieving," he said.

"They are the way I feel really, saying 'unbelievable'. I'm sure I've surprised some people, but I hope that I haven't surprised everyone.

"I hope that people know enough about my game to know that hopefully the win at Pebble wasn't a fluke.

"I feel like I've showed enough mental strength down the stretch over the years to know that if I put myself in that position I can do it.

"I've always said that my game matches up well to the US Open-style golf course. I hope when people say 'unbelievable' they are just ecstatic for me."

Phil Mickelson and Korean YE Yang, two more of the game's four current Major winners, are also in this week's field and Mickelson will finally take the World Number One spot off Tiger Woods if he finishes first or second.

Ernie Els made a late decision to play and Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen, John Daly, Camilo Villegas, last year's US Open Champion Lucas Glover, Tom Lehman and 18 year old Japanese ace Ryo Ishikawa hope to make their presence felt as well.

Martin Kaymer is the defending champion for a second week running after narrowly missing out on a second straight Alstom Open de France title last Sunday, and the German hopes a good performance this week can move him a step closer to a place in Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup side.

"It's a big week for everybody," said Kaymer. "You can see how tight it is in the ranking. There are I think seven or eight players that can easily get in The Ryder Cup if they play well the next two weeks. It's tight, but you can see that European golf is getting better and better. I just see it as a big chance to win The Ryder Cup."

Montgomerie admits that the fantastic form of European players across the globe - Justin Rose and Miguel Angel Jiménez were the latest winners on Sunday - is threatening to give him something of a selection dilemma.

"It's a good time for European golf, very good time, and I'm just honoured to be their Captain on this particular occasion," said the Scot. "It's made my job extremely difficult to have to select only three from a potential 20 that could easily cope with the pressures of The Ryder Cup.

"It's going to be a very difficult choice come next month when I have to announce the team at the end of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MOLINARI, EdoardoITA18-12
2CLARKE, DarrenNIR18-9
3JACQUELIN, RaphaëlFRA18-8
T4GALLACHER, StephenSCO18-7
T4HEDBLOM, PeterSWE18-7
T4MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-7
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