McDowell in contention at the Open

GRAEME McDOWELL is in contention for another Major.

The US Open champion may be a fair distance off the lead he held at the halfway point in Pebble Beach last month, but a 68 yesterday put him on to the leaderboard at five under.

After a slow start at St Andrews following the lengthy celebrations which greeted his historic win in California, he found the mental fog clearing yesterday as he bids to emulate Padraig Harrington in 2008 and land back-to-back Majors.

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"It's weird saying I'm in contention when I'm seven back but there's not too many guys in front of me. I love the way I'm playing – I hit some good shots and got the old blood pumping again," said McDowell.

"It has been difficult for me to move on with players and spectators congratulating me on Pebble. My focus wasn't where it needed to be on Thursday but it felt a lot better today. I have got myself back into position."

McDowell is a born-and-bred wind player having been brought up on links golf at Portrush. He would be more than happy for extra disruption today.

"I don't need Louis Oosthuizen shooting five under par again so I need it to blow. When the wind gets up, it's a different kettle of fish," he said.

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"I've seen a lot of shots along the ground this week and it's nice to be able to play shots like that. I've gone back to where I grew up.

"There's nothing one-dimensional about the golf out there and that's what I love about links golf in these conditions. You've got to be able to do everything out there – it's a great test."

Oosthuizen's commanding presence aside, McDowell's dream scenario for this Open would be an arm wrestle tomorrow afternoon with his close friend Rory McIlroy.

"If I can't win I'd dearly love to see him win and I would certainly love to take him out for dinner if I did, but I'll be trying to chase him down this weekend," he said.

"I've always wanted to have a chance to go head-to-head with him on a Sunday afternoon somewhere. If the stars align here, it would be pretty special."