The Open 2019: Graeme McDowell loses temper after brutally unlucky rules break

July 18, 2019

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — Rory McIlroy has consumed much of the spotlight during the early part of the week. But ask the locals in the crowd at the 2019 Open Championship, and they’ll tell you Graeme McDowell is the hometown favorite this week.

McDowell grew up in the town and still has family in the area. When he stepped onto the first tee, he drew the loudest roar of the day. And again when he fired his first shot down the left rough.

“The first tee was definitely a little emotional and a little intimidating. I was happy to get that away,” he said. “I literally had a tear in my eye.”


McDowell’s round started out well. He made the turn in two under, and after another birdie on the 14th, he was inside the top 10.

Bogeys on 15 and 17 were disappointing, but at one under, the hometown boy was still very much in contention.

That’s when it all fell apart, courtesy of a disastrous stroke of bad luck.


McDowell missed the fairway with his drive on the 18th hole, but not so badly that he thought his ball would be lost.

“It was an innocuous tee shot. I wasn’t expecting to lose the ball, put it that way. I’m walking down there expecting half a lie, maybe get up short of the green or back into play and try to make four, and can’t find it”

Historically, under the rules of golf, players had five minutes to look for their balls, but a change to the rulebook starting in 2019 means players now have only three minutes to search for a lost golf ball.

“I thought it was a hell of a rule there until about 12 minutes ago,” McDowell joked. “Three minutes felt awfully short.”

Thirty people helped look for McDowell’s ball, but they couldn’t find it. Three minutes came and went, and McDowell was assessed a penalty. Then, a mere 12 seconds after his three minutes expired, someone found the ball 10 yards right of where they were initially looking.

McDowell was understandably furious, and took his frustration out with a hard kick to his golf bag.

McDowell spoke thoughtfully and honestly after his round. He was frustrated, saying that he thought the rough felt “artificially” long in that area of the course, and was frustrated a good round turned into a below average one. But he’s optimistic to go again tomorrow.

“I focus on the good stuff today and try not to let that 7 beat me up,” he said.

Recap of Day 1: