ADAM Scott and Marc Leishman’s home ground advantage might end up working against them at the upcoming World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath, according to Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.
Speaking during a media call ahead of the event, the 2010 US Open champion said playing in front of a home crowd can be a positive but also add extra pressure down the stretch of a big tournament.
“There's no doubt, the home support and the home crowds can obviously give you the energy and buoy you a little bit,” he said.
“But it can also bring the expectation levels, as well. It's always a tough balancing act when you're playing at home.”
McDowell, a self-confessed lover of the sandbelt, will team with Shane Lowry for the 72-hole team event which has been won by Ireland twice in the past.
The 11-time tournament winner says he’s confident the Irish pair will be in the mix come Sunday as the tournament returns to its traditional format of 36 holes of alternate shot and 36 holes of better ball.
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“I think we can win,” he said bluntly when asked to assess the team’s chances.
“We know a lot about each other's game. I'm a really big fan of Shane's game, always have been, since I first saw him.
“He drives the ball fantastically. He's probably got one of the best short games in the world, if not the best short game in the world, and he's a really confident player down the stretch.
“On a Sunday afternoon, intestinal fortitude or whatever you want to call it, I've always been impressed by him, and I think he's good enough for us to have a chance to win come the weekend.”
And in an ideal world that would come in a tussle with the local pairing in front of a boisterous home crowd.
“Hopefully we can get a chance to play with the boys (Scott and Leishman) late on Sunday and have some fun out there with the crowds,” he said.
“Really, really happy to see the old format returning again this year. You know, the real true kind of partner format with the foursomes and the better ball.
“I see they've switched it around a little bit this year where it's going to be opening up with alternate-shot, better ball, alternate-shot, then better ball on the Sunday, which is going to make for extremely volatile scoring with a fantastic field.”
McDowell said he was excited to be returning to the sandbelt having played both Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne on previous trips and falling in love with both.
“They're two absolutely legendary golf courses, and I'm sure if you asked a thousand people, you'd probably get some mixed views on what they prefer as their favourite,” he said.
“But a special part of the world. Looking forward to getting back there. Met some good people at Kingston Heath, and looking forward to being back and being part of that golf course.”
McDowell will defend his title at Mayakoba Classic in Mexico this week before having a week off and arriving in Melbourne the Monday of tournament week.
“Normally I probably would have played next week in Sea Island at the RSM Classic, but with my travel schedule down in Melbourne, I decided not to play next week,” he said.
“I want to be as fresh as I possibly can, get myself down there Monday morning into Melbourne and be ready to go for the weekend.
“You know, it is a challenge that we face year on year, trying to work out how to schedule ourselves as well as we possibly can, stay as fresh as we possibly can, especially for a guy like myself playing both the PGA TOUR and the European Tour.
“But it's a balancing act, but I feel like I've learned something new about my schedule every year, and to be honest with you, I'm feeling very fresh and very much looking forward to defending my title this week at the OHL and very much excited to get on the plane down to Melbourne, one of my favorite cities in the world, and playing in the World Cup, which is such a classy format.”
Ireland is one of 28 two-man teams who will contest the event at Kingston Heath with Australia the defending champions after Jason Day and Adam Scott claimed the title in 2013 at Royal Melbourne.
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