ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - He's the U.S. Open champion, and that's been a disadvantage to Graeme McDowell. "People keep congratulating me on Pebble Beach,'' he said, "and it's difficult for me to move on. I've got to get refocused.''
McDowell seemed to do that Friday. He shot a 4-under-par 68 in the wind-whipped second round of the British Open and moved into a tie for sixth at 139, seven shots behind Louis Oosthuizen's 132.
On Thursday, it was McDowell's pal and countryman, young Rory McIlroy, who was the star of St. Andrews with a 63, eight better than McDowell. But on Friday, McIlroy ended up four shots back of McDowell.
"I was careless a bit on my putting,'' said McDowell, 28. "Two more careless three-putts. Four in two days, which is a little unlike me. But I felt a lot better today.''
Tiger Woods, who did it in 2000, is the last to win the U.S. and British Opens the same year. McDowell wouldn't appear to have a chance, but golf can be strange.
"For sure,'' McDowell said, "I'm going into this weekend with no expectations at all. I'm putting no pressure on myself. I've got myself in great position. I'll be out [Saturday] free swinging and just really trying to control the ball in this weather. I love being in contention. It's weird saying I'm in contention being seven back, but there's not too many guys ahead of me.''
McDowell figures some of those guys will fall victim to the ill winds that have been predicted.
"When the wind gets up on this course, it's a different kind of fish," McDowell said. "There's plenty of deep coffin-like bunkers to bury the wreckage out there.''
McDowell became the first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open. He showed tenacity and fine touch on the greens, both of which are needed in this tournament more than ever.
"This golf course asks you to hit all the shots,'' McDowell said, and after winning a major, it's apparent that he has them all.