Irish Open: Graeme McDowell says winning at Lahinch would be 'special'

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'I'd take one this time, I'm not greedy' - McDowell

Graeme McDowell has said he is fully focused on this week's Irish Open at Lahinch after preparing by playing practice rounds at Royal Portrush.

The Northern Ireland golfer said the County Clare venue is very similar to his hometown course, which will host The Open in a fortnight's time.

McDowell secured a double victory at the courses 19 years ago but admitted there is a lot more at stake now.

"To win at Lahinch and Portrush again this summer would be special," he said.

McDowell won the Irish Close Championship at Portrush and the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch in 2000, but joked that he would settle for just one of those titles this month.

"I wouldn't be fussy - I'd love to win the Open Championship, but the Irish Open would be a close second," the 39-year-old continued.

"It's beautiful to be down here [at Lahinch]. I spent a couple of days at Portrush getting a good look at the golf course and now I can very much switch my focus to trying to compete at the Irish Open.

"It's 18 years since I've been here but it's a great golf course. It is very similar to Portrush and the fairways are running pretty fast.

"There isn't a huge amount of rough, the bunkers play similar to Portrush and the greens are pretty pure as well. Playing here will stand the golfers in good stead for The Open in two weeks' time."

Graeme McDowell
McDowell won the US Open at Pebble Beach in 2010

Scotland's Russell Knox beat Ryan Fox of New Zealand on the first hole of a play-off to win last year's Irish Open at Ballyliffin.

McDowell has yet to win an Irish Open title but he is hoping his 16th-place finish in the US Open at Pebble Beach in mid-June - nine years on from winning the title at the venue - will provide him with a good platform for the rest of the summer.

"Pebble was a great dry run for me for Portrush because I went in there with that little expectation of being the last guy to win the US Open at Pebble, and felt like I handled myself pretty well," added McDowell.

"Nothing prepares you for the Open Championship in your hometown and something you've always dreamed of for the last 20, 30 years but I feel like that will stand me in good stead.

"I'm really trying to play hard these next two weeks so that I can take some form with me to Portrush and be able to take it easy with my prep on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and really just rest up and get ready for the tournament.

"I'm certainly not going up there for a glory walk. I'm not going up there to look around and smell the roses, I'm going up there to compete and be prepared and really take it as seriously as I take any other week."

The action at Lahinch gets underway on Thursday.