'Complete idiot' McDowell 5 over on first hole

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PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Graeme McDowell is enjoying his return to the OHL Classic at Mayakoba – with one notable exception.

McDowell continues to be vexed by the opening hole at El Camaleon, a rather nondescript par 4 that the Ulsterman has now played in 5 over through three rounds.

After hitting his tee shot out of bounds right during a Tuesday practice round, McDowell replicated that result in both the first and third rounds, resulting in double bogey each time. McDowell entered the third round with a one-shot advantage, but thanks in part to his slow start he managed only a 1-under 70 and now trails Derek Fathauer by three.

“I’ve played that first hole like a complete idiot this week,” McDowell said. “That driver swing that’s going to the right, that’s been killing me the last few weeks. It really stopped me from competing in Turkey a couple weeks back. It’s just something I’m working on, something I need to eliminate from my game.”

All is not lost for McDowell this week in Mexico, as he has played the other 17 holes in 18 under par, dropping only three shots in three days. With a relatively unproven player in the lead, McDowell remains optimistic about his chances to capture his first win since the 2013 RBC Heritage.

“I’m really happy with my full swing across the board, chipping and putting very nicely,” he said. “I’ve just got to get the thing in the fairway tomorrow and I’ll have a great chance.”