Darren Clarke tips Graeme McDowell for US Open challenge

Darren Clarke is tipping his fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell to launch a serious challenge for a second US Open triumph at Merion next week.

Former Open champion Clarke believes the Pennsylvania venue is ideal for McDowell, who won the title at Pebble Beach three years ago.

"With the course being a little bit shorter, it will suit G-Mac down to the ground," said Clarke.

"Merion gives him a fantastic chance to add a second US Open to his CV."

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell is aiming for a second US Open title
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell is aiming for a second US Open title

Clarke said McDowell, currently ranked seventh in the world, would be really looking forward to the 13-16 June event, the second major of the season.

"He has won a couple of times this season, at Hilton Head and then in Bulgaria a few weeks ago, so he is obviously playing really well.

"G-Mac can get it out there but he is not one of the big bombers so a shorter course suits him."

Clarke is hoping his own game clicks into place as he aims to make up for missing the Masters because of a hamstring injury.

"I am not competitively sharp, but I am working hard," said Clarke, who last played in the US Open in 2009.

"I am swinging the club well but am just not back into scoring mode.

"The US Open is the toughest test, they do not give you any margin for error at all. With the rough as thick as it is."

Clarke also predicted that world number two and 2011 US Open winner Rory McIlroy would soon be challenging for major honours again after his well-publicised change of sponsor and recent dip in form.

"Changing equipment is always tough, getting used to new clubs and balls," added Clarke.

"But he has so much talent and it will not be long before he is back up there."