ORLANDO, Fla. – Following a 5-over 77 Friday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Graeme McDowell took eight drivers with him and headed to the range at nearby Lake Nona.
After whittling down the prospects, the Ulsterman chose a new Cleveland model to put into his bag for Saturday’s round at Bay Hill. That change made all the difference, as McDowell bounced back to card a bogey-free 67 in the third round.
“Yesterday was a real anomaly,” McDowell said. “I’ve had that new Srixon driver in the bag all year. It’s been good, but I haven’t been trusting it directionally.”
Trust did not appear to be an issue for McDowell Saturday. After hitting only 15 of 28 fairways across the first two rounds, McDowell found every fairway during the third round.
“That was a little bit of a turn of events, from the worst I’ve hit it in 10 years to hitting every fairway on a tight golf course,” he said.
While he credited the driver swap as a catalyst for his low round Saturday, McDowell also noted that some of the issues Friday were rooted in technique.
“I’ve been struggling with my 3-wood as well, so it’s a technical issue,” McDowell said. “I’m kind of losing the loft on my backswing, and I need to put that loft back on again. So it was also a little bit of a swing change as well.”
After playing his way back into the top half of the field, McDowell offered a veteran’s perspective when looking back on his second round, a struggle during which he failed to record a single birdie.
“You always learn more from your tough days than your good days. There’s no doubt about it,” McDowell said. “Days like yesterday are the ones that keep you on your toes.”