By Simon Evans, PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (Reuters)
Graeme McDowell had exuded confidence and self-belief in his adjusted swing this week and for a while it worked.
He led at the start of the fourth round of the Players Championship when everything suddenly unravelled in a cruel and heartless fashion.
After shooting rounds of 67, 69 and 69, the Britain carded a seven over-par 79 on Sunday, finding the water on four holes and taking some detours into trees and shrubs along the way.
The reigning U.S. Open champion ended the tournament tied for 33rd, eight shots off the lead and forced to play out the final holes with leaders K.J. Choi and David Toms, who went to a playoff, won by the Korean.
“I made a bomb on five to really get it going with a birdie and then I stand up on six and adjust, make a negative swing and hit it in the right trees. I stand up on seven and react to the right shot and hit it left into the water.
“At that point I just felt the life kind of drain right out of me. My energy levels went from eight out of 10 to two out of 10,” said McDowell, who along with the other leading players had been forced to return at 7.45am, to complete 13 holes of his rain-affected third round.
“It was just one of those days, everything I tried just went wrong. The bogeys on six and seven just killed me, killed my momentum completely and I just couldn’t pick myself up,” he said.
What may be of more concern for the Northern Irishman ahead of next month’s defence of his U.S. Open title, was the return of his swing problems, coming after a week he spent near Orlando with coach Pete Cowen adjusting the faults that had caused his poor form so far this year.
“There were a few tired swings coming in there for sure. The legwork was pretty sloppy off the back nine and it was a pretty ugly finish. It’s a bit of a lonely place up there,” he said.
McDowell though believes his three strong rounds have still got him in the right mood to head into the second major of the year at Congressional.
“I feel a lot better. Two weeks ago I was in pieces with my golf game and I found it a bit this week. Yeah that last round was up there in my top 10 worst last rounds ever, so that is going to hurt a little bit of course,” he said.
“It was my first time under the gun in a little while, first time in front of crowd this big in a while and it was kind of about getting into the old vibes again. I didn’t quite have it out there. I was a little flat.”
(Editing by Julian Linden)
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