Lost luggage is part and parcel of international travel; although in Graeme McDowell’s case the loss of his golf clubs – which went AWOL somewhere in Charles de Gaulle Airport lost and found in Paris – provided unnecessary stress on two fronts: firstly, he was forced to withdraw from final qualifying for the British Open; and, secondly, he was left without clubs for his prep work on arrival here at Ballyliffin Golf Club.
McDowell’s original plan to compete in The Open qualifying at St Anne’s on Tuesday was thrown into disarray on flying from Paris to Manchester and discovering his clubs had not travelled with him. A worker without the tools of his trade, he took to Twitter to express his exasperation and also to look for help in finding a way for Air France lost and found to find them.
Without his own clubs McDowell decided to withdraw from the 36-hole final qualifier for The Open at Carnoustie next month aware that he has a further two chances – at this week’s Irish Open and next week’s Scottish Open – to secure a late exemption, with three players from the top 10 in each tournament getting into the Major.
A large number of respondents on social media wondered why he did not simply rent a set of clubs in order to compete at St Anne’s (where 72 players battled for three spots). He explained: “It is difficult to replicate your exact set of clubs. I don’t physically have a back-up for my gamer set. I don’t carry a back-up set with me. I’ve a back-up driver; it’s in my set, which are in Paris. I use specific shafts, head weights, loft and lies, grips, a lot of moving parts.
Odds against me
“Maybe I could have competed to a certain level, and it could have had a happy ending, but the odds were against me. I had to pull the plug in favour of coming here and getting ready for the Irish Open.
“People were lighting me up on Twitter, you expect that. A lot of people understood. I used Twitter to try and get help from Air France and to explain why I’d to pull a rip cord on Open qualifying. It’s not my last chance.
“In hindsight I should have flown private or drove. But there was a perfectly-timed flight heading from Paris to Manchester. I was trying to do the sensible thing. It’s created a lot of traction. I got on Twitter looking for help. Some people were upset why I didn’t try and qualify. If it had been my last-chance saloon, if there wasn’t three spots here this week for The Open and three next week in Scotland, of course I’d have tried [to qualify]. Playing 36 holes with new clubs at a tricky course with just three places I didn’t feel odds were not in my favour.”
Middle of the night
So it was that McDowell found himself in Ballyliffin earlier than planned; and his clubs, eventually found in Charles de Gaulle, rerouted via Dublin and due to arrive in Co Donegal in the middle of the night in time to use them in Wednesday’s Pro-Am.
McDowell did manage to get in nine holes of practice on the course on Tuesday evening, using a set of clubs from the Srixon tour truck. But he’ll have his own clubs, with his own specifications, in use for when it matters in the tournament.
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