GRAEME McDowell will just have to imagine what next week’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush would have been like if he had been parading the US Open trophy again.
However, the 32-year-old is not going to beat himself up too hard over missing out in San Francisco by one shot, his hopes ending when a 20-foot birdie attempt on the last rolled well wide.
“This has reinforced to me that I can compete and win more major championships,” said McDowell, who came through by one at Pebble Beach two years ago and then was followed by Rory McIlroy last June.
“It was just great to try my best and compete. The tougher the golf course the better for me and I’m happy with my execution in general. There’s a mixture of emotions inside me right now. Obviously disappointment, deflation, pride, but mostly just frustration because I hit three fairways.”
McDowell leads the PGA Tour this season in fairways hit with an average of almost 71%, so three out of 14 - 21% - on the final day was certainly not what he was expecting.
“It’s not like I drove the ball awful. I just seemed to hit it in the semi-rough all day long. This is sort of a new experience for me, I suppose, finishing second at a major. I would rather have tried and failed than have never tried at all.
“I really didn’t have much of an A-game this week, but I’m not sure you can on this course because it beats you up. The fairways are very elusive, the greens are rock hard and it’s the toughest test. To compete as well as I did with my B-plus game I’m very proud of myself.”
Dubliner Padraig Harrington will take a lot from the week as well after finishing in a tie for fourth - and that after a bogey on the last. Much has been made about Harrington’s fall down the rankings from third three years ago, but he was also eighth in The Masters in April and he is now back up to 75th from 94th.
“It’s nice to feel comfortable in those sort of situations,” said the three-major winner. “I never found the course difficult all week. It was a joy to play - testing, but very fair.”
Harrington, who finished two behind champion Webb Simpson, was left to reflect on four-putting twice in his opening 74, saying: “It wasn’t my ability to play golf this week that was costing me, it’s a couple of decisions here and there, so it’s kind of nice to think you have the ability to win it.”