| LYTHAM ST ANNES, England, July 22
LYTHAM ST ANNES, England, July 22 At the U.S.
Open two years ago it was Graeme McDowell who kept calm when
everyone around him wilted on a nervy final day but he could not
repeat the act in a similarly frantic British Open climax.
McDowell, partnering Adam Scott in the final group of the
day as the Australian's heartbreaking collapse handed Ernie Els
a fourth major title, moved within three shots of the lead with
a birdie at the eighth and had the galleries firmly on his side.
Then came a run of three straight bogeys including probably
the worst shot the world number 12 has played in a long time.
"Card wrecker," was the Ryder Cup player's assessment of an
ugly duck-hook into the trees on the par-five 11th on his way to
a five-over 75 which earned a share of fifth spot with world
number one Luke Donald.
"I moved my body left in an attempt not to get the club
flailing right and that was just a bad pull, 15-handicapper."
McDowell made no excuses despite experiencing more difficult
weather conditions on Sunday.
"You're going from playing flat-pan golf for a few days to
playing in a strong crosswind," he said after winding up on
two-under 278, five adrift of South African Els.
"There are things you have to change in your game and I
didn't do that well today.
"What did I have to do today, shoot level-par? It was a
tough day. Yes, Ernie Els shot 32 on the back nine to overcome
us and win this but he's also been handed it as well."
McDowell did his best to cling on but more bogeys at 15 and
17 were symptomatic of a bad day at the office.
While he forgot his swing on the Lancashire links, he did
not forget his manners.
With Scott struggling on the 18th hole, under the face of a
bunker and both balls the same distance from the green, McDowell
called over to the Australian to say he would play first,
earning large cheers from the huge crowd.
Scott consequently had more time to compose himself for a
terrific third shot which set up a makeable par-saving putt and
a chance to force a playoff -- but it was not to be for the
McDowell was clearly devastated for his partner.
"What can you say? It was tough to say anything to him that
was going to be of any relevance," he said after exchanging a
warm and almost apologetic handshake with Scott on the 18th
"He's going to be extremely heartbroken and disappointed but
he's a great, great, great player and that's what I tried to
convey to him."
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)