KILLARNEY, Ireland – U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell believes the first 59 on the European Tour could be shot this week at the Irish Open.
The layout of the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club in County Kerry has changed little since England’s Nick Faldo scored two straight wins there in 1992 and 1993 when it last staged the event.
However, the advance of golf club and ball technology over the past two decades puts its 7,161-yard length on the short side when compared to many tournament venues today.
Recent rains have meanwhile softened the greens, make them receptive to wedgeplay.
“I would say there is a 59 out there. The greens are quite undulating with big run-off areas so if it did get firm with a bit of breeze it could be tricky,” McDowell said.
“But if it’s going to remain soft, with not much wind, I think the putting surfaces are good enough for it. That’s the key to shooting very low: the putting surfaces have to be good and I think they are good enough out there this week so it could happen.”
McDowell also believes he could be the man to write that new entry for the European Tour’s record books, though the feat has been achieved before in the United States, most recently by Paul Goydos at the John Deere Classic in Illinois.
McDowell, who celebrates his 31st birthday on Friday, shot 59 last week while playing with his father, an uncle and a friend near his home in Portrush, Northern Ireland.
“Shooting 59 is obviously a very pleasant number to shoot,” McDowell said. “It was my first one and hopefully the first of a few.
“It was nice to go out and see that my game is in good shape, go low and get that feeling going. I think you need to be comfortable about going low here.”
However, he faces competition from a strong field that includes his fellow Northern Irishman and potential Ryder Cup partner at Celtic Manor in October, Rory McIlroy, and Padraig Harrington.
The 21-year-old McIlroy is the favorite to win this week and showed with his victorious fourth round 62 at Quail Hollow earlier this year that he too can shoot low.