US Open: McDowell says 'feel good factor' is back as he returns to Pebble Beach

Graeme McDowell drives off the 18th tee at Pebble Beach on Tuesday
Graeme McDowell is back at the venue where he won the US Open title in 2010

Graeme McDowell says he heads into this week's US Open at Pebble Beach convinced his game is again equipped to compete with the world's best.

McDowell, who won the major at Pebble Beach in 2010, will tee up after earning a spot at The Open Championship in his home town of Portrush.

The Northern Irishman's eighth place at the Canadian Open booked his Open spot as he holed a 30-foot putt on the 18th.

"I come into this week feeling very good about my game," said McDowell.

The former world number four has moved up more than 150 places in the rankings this year largely by dint of his Puntacana Resort Championship victory in the Dominican Republic in March which ended a four-year title drought.

He now sits at 101st in the world rankings and aims for further progression into the top 50 which would ensure his place in all the majors and World Golf Championship events.

Dustin Johnson won the 2016 US Open while Phil Mickelson has been runner-up in the event six times
McDowell says he would have been intimidated by the prospect of playing with Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson earlier this year

McDowell's progress means he will tee up in one of the marquee three-balls over the opening two days alongside 2016 US Open champion Dustin Johnson and six-time runner-up Phil Mickelson.

"Four or five months ago, if you'd have told me you're on the first tee with Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson this week at the US Open, where my game was or where my confidence level was, I would have been very intimidated, no doubt about it.

"Confidence is one of these very fragile things, you know, it certainly goes away a lot quicker than it comes back.

"It's certainly been a slower process than I imagined getting the confidence back. It is coming.

"Now I'm looking forward to the challenge of teeing it up with two great players on Thursday and Friday, and trying to dissect this golf course and get myself in position to hopefully be able to compete this weekend."

McDowell entered 2019 with "very simple goals" of trying to lock up his future PGA Tour playing credentials and qualify for the Open at Portrush.

"I achieved both of those," he said.

"Now I can start kicking on and looking ahead to get myself back in the top 100, back in the top 50 in the world. And I believe I'm playing well enough to do that."