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Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 16:09 UK

McDowell set for Loch Lomond test

SCOTTISH OPEN, Loch Lomond
Date: 9-12 July
Coverage: Rounds one and two live on Sky Sports, highlights on BBC red button from 1800 BST, rounds three and four live on BBC TV and red button


Graeme McDowell
McDowell beat James Kingston by two shots last year

Graeme McDowell says defending his Scottish Open title could hamper his chances in next week's Open.

The thick meadow grass found at Loch Lomond is a world away from the links conditions at Open venue Turnberry.

"This is not ideal preparation. I've always played Loch Lomond before the Open but you couldn't get two more different styles of golf," he admitted.

Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els will tee off in one of the marquee groups when the tournament starts on Thursday.

Another attractive group sees Northern Ireland prodigy Rory McIlroy, 20, in a fine three-ball with Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, who were second and third respectively last week in France.

With the likes of Els, Sir Nick Faldo, Angel Cabrera and John Daly in the field, the £3m tournament boasts a line-up containing 22 majors between them.

Former Europe Ryder Cup captain Faldo will be playing his first event since being knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in June.

Northern Irishman McDowell won last year's Scottish Open by two shots from South Africa's James Kingston but an 80 in the third round at Royal Birkdale put paid to his Open chances the following week.

606: DEBATE

"I got off to a good start at Birkdale (last year) but when it started blowing there on Saturday I just felt like I ran out of steam a little bit," said McDowell.

"Any time I've ever won it's a massive high and it takes you a little bit of time to come down from that."

Home favourite Montgomerie has not had a top-10 finish for over a year but the European Ryder Cup captain believes he can hit the heights at Loch Lomond.

"I still feel capable of winning," said Montgomerie. "There are people who have won on this Tour older than me, and I still think there are a few wins in there.

"I've just got to keep going and believe in that. If I don't believe it I will never win again."

McIlroy has not been outside the top 15 in his last four European tournaments, with a best finish of fifth at the prestigious PGA Championship at Wentworth in May.

He also impressed at last month's US Open at Bethpage, finishing 10th.

Westwood, who won at Loch Lomond in 1998, has had 29 professional victories, including 18 on the European Tour, but is without a title since September 2007.

He narrowly missed out last week in France, beaten in a play-off by Martin Kaymer.

Poulter, meanwhile, was incensed at the French Open when he claimed a photographer disturbed his concentration and caused him to put his approach into the water at the 15th.

The 33-year-old, who has won seven European Tour events since his rookie year in 2000, has not won since 2007 in Japan, but finished second behind Padraig Harrington at the Open at Royal Birkdale last year.



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see also
Laird set for Loch Lomond return
08 Jul 09 |  Golf
Kaymer beats Westwood in play-off
05 Jul 09 |  Golf
McIlroy finishes well in Munich
28 Jun 09 |  Golf
Rory McIlroy at the Open
22 Jul 07 |  Photo Galleries
McIlroy stunned by Harrington dip
24 Jun 09 |  Golf
McDowell bags Scottish Open title
13 Jul 08 |  Golf
Golfing sensation home after win
04 Feb 09 |  Northern Ireland


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