McDowell heads Irish Challenge at Dutch Open

by Ronan MacNamara  

Graeme McDowell by Golffile

Graeme McDowell is back in action this week at the Dutch Open before he heads over to Wisconsin to assist Pádraig Harrington and the European Ryder Cup team.

G Mac, who hadn’t played a competitive round since July, finished in a share of 49th place at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week and he is the only Ryder Cup involvement this week with none of Harrington’s 12 in action in Cromvoirt at Bernardus Golf.

The 2010 US Open champion is joined by Niall Kearney, Cormac Sharvin, Gavin Moynihan, Paul Dunne and James Sugrue.

The field is devoid of star quality with Branden Grace, Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry the standout names alongside McDowell, although I don’t know how long saying he is a major champion will justify being a star name.

Home hero Joost Luiten will draw the majority of the crowd, as will Pieters who is a former champion at this event.

The golf course at Bernardus is relatively flat and rugged with a heathland definition. The forecast is for calm conditions which could make for a low-scoring week and not a true test of the players ability.

The low scoring could benefit Kearney who has dropped outside the top-126 in the Race to Dubai Rankings with just three events left after this week until D-Day in Andalucia.

The Royal Dublin player has taken the last fortnight off and missed out on two potentially lucrative weeks in Switzerland and Wentworth.

The Dubliner loves the birdie fests with his best finishes coming on low scoring weeks.

Kearney has two top-10s this season at the Canary Islands Championship and the Hero Open where he finished nineteen-under and sixteen-under respectively.

The 33-year-old is just five points behind Alejandro Canizares as he looks for a fast finish to ensure he maintains his full playing privileges on the European Tour for the 2022 season.

Gavin Moynihan has enjoyed a decent return to form as he continues his emergence from the doldrums.

The Dubliner has made three of his last four cuts on both the European and Challenge Tour while posting a top-20 at the British Challenge a fortnight ago, which was the first time he posted four under-par rounds this season.

Time is quickly running out for Cormac Sharvin who has fallen to 152nd in the Race to Dubai having missed his last five cuts on the European Tour.

The course at the Dutch Open could play into his wheelhouse given the calm conditions and the fact it is not overly long.

The Ardglass native drives the ball an average of 302 yards off the tee, however he is 167th in driving accuracy and 173rd in greens in regulation.

Paul Dunne has not played weekend golf since May when he tied for 52nd at the British Masters where Richard Bland won for the first time in what was the highlight of the European Tour season to date.

Since then, the Greystones native has been on a disastrous run of form as he struggles to find his game after returning from a wrist injury.

Dunne has also only shot one round in the 60s since and has not played a competitive round of golf since August.

Perhaps a return to the familiar terrain that he loves might end his run of eight missed cuts in a row.

James Sugrue is handed a rare European Tour start with the former Amateur Champion pencilled in to start alongside Tom Gandy and Lars Van Der Vight.

The Mallow native has made one cut in his last five starts and will be hoping to make some much needed cash as he steps up to the top tier.

The drama of Wentworth last week will be absent as the European Tour takes a breath but the fight for Tour survival goes on . 

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