Graeme McDowell lurking only four shots back of the lead at the British Open

Jonathan Wall
July 21, 2012

It was a front nine to forget for Graeme McDowell on Saturday afternoon. Starting the day six shots back of the lead, the Ulsterman knew the only way to get within shouting distance of the leader going into the final round was to make birdies in bunches and hope for the best.

That appeared to be a pipe dream early on, after he bogeyed the par-3 5th to go to 1-over for the day and seven behind then-leader Brandt Snedeker. But instead of panicing and making what likely would've been a tournament-ending mistake, McDowell hung tough, picking up a birdie on the par-4 8th and three more over the last nine holes to post 3-under 67.

"I felt the tournament slipping away from me over the first six or seven holes - I didn't get out of the blocks fast enough," McDowell admitted after his round.

"I was struggling but I dug deep for the patience I needed and the birdie at the eighth helped me turn it around."

With a four-shot lead heading into the final round, there's no question this is Adam Scott's tournament to lose. However, you can't help but look at McDowell's major championship track record and wonder if we're going to see another come-from-behind winner at the British Open -- a major that's produced some out-of-nowhere champions over the years.

With the winds expected to finally blow on Sunday, McDowell likely won't need to post a low number to catch Scott. If anything, he'll need to do what he's done for most of the week, and that's grind and remain patient.

"All I've wanted to do this week is to contend and now I can do that," McDowell said after his round, "and the fact that I'm playing with Adam (Scott) means I can look the man in the eye that I need to look in the eye."

Remember, McDowell has been in this situation before heading into the final round of a major, when he came from three shots back to beat Dustin Johnson at the 2010 U.S. Open. Will Scott pull a Dustin Johnson on Sunday? That remains to be seen. But if anyone within striking distance of the Aussie knows how to play the role of spoiler perfectly, it's McDowell.