Northern Irish eyes still smiling

Published 02/07/2012 12:06:29

It really is quite incredible how three Northern Irishmen, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graham McDowell, dominated world golf between the summers of 2010 and 2011 with a major each and there was almost a fourth triumph when McDowell was beaten by a shot in the recent US Open.

The three are at quite different stages of their careers although all still feature heavily in Betfair US Open Golf betting markets.

McIlroy, 23, is the new young superstar, surely destined for many more major victories. At 43, Clarke is a tour veteran and there weren't many who predicted that he would seal his long and distinguished career with an Open win last year and even less who think he could do it again.

McDowell, 33 at the end of this month, lies right in between the two, both in age and career progress. Odds of 33-1 also indicate a level of expectation somewhere between his two friends and countrymen.

McDowell may not have the prettiest of swings, but handsome is as handsome does and he is the fiercest of competitors when the going gets really tough. A succession of successfully negotiated clutch putts got him home in the 2010 US Open and when Europe needed a cool head and nerveless short game in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor later that year, it was McDowell who delivered the coup de grace to seal victory for the home side.

McDowell's fine record in recent US Opens confirms his belief that the really tough courses bring out the best in him. Lytham is certainly tough, one of the most difficult on the Open circuit, and if the man from Portrush is anywhere on the premises when the gruelling final stretch of par 4s still need to be negotiated, don't expect him to back down.

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