8am Round-Up: You could lose caddie in US Open rough, warns Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell reckons the rough at Erin Hills is the thickest for a major since the 2008 Open at Royal Birkdale. Picture: Jane Barlow
Graeme McDowell reckons the rough at Erin Hills is the thickest for a major since the 2008 Open at Royal Birkdale. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Former winner Graeme McDowell reckons the rough at next week’s US Open at Erin Hills is the thickest for a major in almost a decade.

He joked, in fact, that it is so high and thick that “you might lose your caddie” when searching for balls in the season’s second major.

McDowell, who claimed the title at Pebble Beach in 2010, delievered his assessment of the new US Open venue in Wisconsin to golfbytourmiss.com following a first visit last week.

“Woh! there is some rough at Erin Hills, so much so you might lose your caddy as it is just that high and that thick”, he said, smiling.

“I have not seen rough that high since we were last at Royal Birkdale in 2008.

“There will be some shots at the par 5s at Erin Hills where you hitting your second shots probably across waist-high fescue.

“There is just so much rough that does not seem to be in play but will be in play, and more so if we get any wind.”

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Phil Mickelson insists it wasn’t a difficult decision to skip next week’s US Open to be at his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation.

The 46-year-old is skipping the season’s second major at Erin Hills despite it being the event he needs to win to complete golf’s career Grand Slam.

“I love the (US) Open, but this is a special moment for us,” he said on the eve of the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis.

“I mean, my daughter’s speaking, she’s giving the speech there at graduation. It’s one of those things you just need to be there, so it wasn’t a hard decision.”

The five-time major winner added: “As you get older and you share these moments, you realise the greatest moments in life are those spontaneous moments with your family.

“And this is one of those moments that I’ll cherish forever.”

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Marc Warren is hoping to use this week’s Lyoness Open in Austria to kick-start his season.

“I felt as though my game was good up until the end of the Middle East Swing and I played pretty decent in South Africa,” said the Scot heading into the event.

“But, unfortunately, I then picked up a little bit of an injury, so I’m just trying to get some of that form back and have a strong finish to the season.”

Warren is joined in the field at Diamond Country Club in Salzburg by Stephen Gallacher, Duncan Stewart, Scott Henry and Craig Lee.

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Sergio Garcia has been named as the Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Month for his Masters win, having overcome Justin Rose in a play-off at Augusta National to claim his maiden major title.

Garcia’s triumph came on the day that his idol Seve Ballesteros, a two-time Masters champion and the first European to achieve the feat, would have turned 60.

“I am honoured to be named as the Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Month,” said Garcia, the third Spaniard to claim a Green Jacket after Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, another two-time winner.

“It has been such a memorable time of my life since the Masters victory and hopefully I can repeat it many times over.

“Winning my first major at Augusta was a dream come true and the fact that it came on the day that Seve would have turned 60 made it even more special.

“He has always been my biggest inspiration in this game and I owe a lot to him.”

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Paul O’Hara holds a three-shot lead at the halfway stage in the Northern Open after easier conditions for the second round at Moray Golf Club saw a dramatic improvement in scoring at the Lossiemouth venue.

No play was possible in the morning due to more rain but, as the sun broke out after a two-tee start was implemented, almost everyone in the field managed to better their efforts in brutal first-day conditions.

The biggest improvement came from Gullane’s Marc Owenson, who took 23 shots less than his opening score as he carded an eight-under-par 63.

The flawless effort was lit up by birdies at the second, third, sixth, seventh, eight, 13th, 16th and 17th.

On seven-over for the event, Owenson sits nine shots behind O’Hara after he backed up his brilliant 72 in those foul first-day conditions with a 68 to lead from Newmachar’s Greg McBain.

Paul McKechnie (Braid Hills Golf Centre), Gavin Hay (Grantown-on-Spey) and David Orr (Eastwood) are all a further shot back in joint-third.

“I positioned the ball well today and will just try to play the same tomorrow in the final 36 holes,” said O’Hara.

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There was no play at Royal Aberdeen on the second day of the Scottish Women’s Championship.

That meant the qualifiers for the match-play phase were decided on one round for only the second time in the post-World War II years.

The second qualifying round in the 103rd national championship was cancelled at 12.30pm yesterday.

Tournament officials felt it would have been touch and go for the field of 70 to have got round in daylight