Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell hopes to find the key to consistency when he tees up in this week’s Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National.
The Northern Irish Ryder Cup star has missed five cuts in his last seven events, and while that would usually be cause for alarm, the former US Open Champion won on the other two starts.
Victory at the Volvo World Match Play Championship showed McDowell’s form is there, but the 33 year old admits he could do with competing over four rounds in Paris rather than having another weekend on the practice range.
“Obviously that Volvo World Match Play offsets some really average golf for me I suppose,” said McDowell. “I feel like I went into the US Open a bit under golfed to be honest with you - just the fact that a few missed cuts here and there; playing a slightly reduced schedule this year.
“I really just haven't had enough course time the last couple months; and that was highlighted at the US Open, and it was highlighted a little bit last week in Ireland, missing by one there. I thought I had snuck in for the weekend and I could have done with a couple extra rounds of golf under my belt, but used the weekend constructively, hit a lot of balls.
“I feel like, thankfully, I've got a couple of victories under the belt this year to off set maybe the panic button being hit. It is a good thing to be coming into this run of golf fresh I suppose, I've got a lot of golf coming up here the next few months and being fresh is nice.
“So the game's not in terrible shape to be honest with you. It's been a fine line here and there. The motivation's there and I'm feeling hungry and ready to go this summer.
“I think this is my eighth time being here at The French Open, and I've always enjoyed this course - it has that links look to it.
“It's always firm and fast, a lot of heavy rough around. You mix that in with some risk/reward stuff, especially the last four or five holes with a lot of water around. It asks you to hit a lot of quality shots. It's just a really good golf course; premium on accuracy off the tee to try and set up opportunities to come into these greens and make some birdies.
“They do a fantastic job here. Look after us really well; Versailles, beautiful town, its great food, and what else can you ask for? Fine wines, hopefully.”
Asked about the consequences of another missed cut, McDowell added: “Hopefully that scenario is not going to arise. I've worked very hard the last ten days or so, and I've probably hit as many balls in the last ten days as I have in a couple months really.
“I could do with a weekend here where I compete and play four rounds, get the old juices flowing.”
McDowell is one of a host of European Ryder Cup stars descending on Le Golf National this week, but one of America’s beaten side from Medinah has also made the trip across the Atlantic.
And Matt Kuchar admits a first visit to France was something he had been trying to secure for a couple of years.
“This is an event I talked about with my agent for a couple years in trying to make the time work to be able to make it here,” said the World Number Five.
“One of those things I saw on the horizon as a place I wanted to go. I've never been to France before, and I don't know anybody that doesn't fantasise, romanticise about going to Paris.
“So the opportunity to come, to experience Paris, to experience France, I really wanted to do. I talked to some players about the golf tournament here, and they said one of the best courses they play all year.
“So there were a lot of things that said I really ought to come. This year it worked out, and the timing's been great.
“We are going to go down to the south of France for a little vacation and then I'll make my way up to Scotland a few days before the British to start preparing.
“Everybody had raved about the finishing four holes and how good they were, and sure enough, they lived up to it, as well. They are a fantastic finishing four holes and really excited to get this tournament going and get it started.”
“Everybody's impression of Paris is it's the most romantic place in the world. It's less romantic with the children but we've brought along a helper, a nanny, as well, to help out, so we've had some fantastic meals. We've had some ability to walk along hand in hand by ourselves along the streets of Paris and kind of do the things that we'd like to do.”