PINEHURST, N.C. — Graeme McDowell spent as much energy Saturday fighting frustration as he did the demanding conditions at the U.S. Open.
Three strokes back after the first round, the 2010 Open winner had seven bogeys in a 5-over 75 that left him 7 over after 54 holes. It was his second straight day over par, sliding him further down the leaderboard after a promising start at Pinehurst No. 2.
“It’s very, very difficult mentally, to stay in it,” McDowell said. “You start thinking to yourself, ‘I’m not even sure if I want to play tomorrow.‘ It’s not really enjoyable. It’s not enjoyable. It’s very difficult. But it’s the U.S. Open.”
McDowell opened with a 68 on Thursday, playing conservatively but putting the ball where he wanted it in a nearly mistake-free performance. But he fell back Friday with a 74, making four bogeys and a double bogey.
Things did not get any better on Saturday as the course got harder and faster with unforgiving pin placements.
His sixth hole started a run of four straight bogeys before the turn, with two more coming on the 13th and 16th holes.
“This is a hard golf course for me because it’s so long,” McDowell said. “I don’t get a lot of wedges in my hands, short irons in my hands. That’s the strength of my game. ... My iron play hasn’t been bad. I just haven’t given myself enough opportunities.
“It’s the U.S. Open, golf’s toughest test. And they were right today.”
PERRY’S EAGLE: Kenny Perry’s final U.S. Open now includes what he figures is the longest shot of his career.
Perry eagled the par-4 14th with a 220-yard shot out of a bunker. The ball bounced on the green and rolled straight to the pin with enough speed that he thought it might zip right by the hole.
“Came out like a dream,” he said.
The 53-year-old Perry, who plays on the Champions Tour, is playing in the Open for the first time since 2010. Last year’s U.S. Senior Open winner played Saturday with Billy Horschel — who at 27 is the same age as Perry’s youngest daughter.
“I still hit my drivers as far as Billy hits it, but his irons are different,” Perry said. “They’re coming out higher, softer, more spin. My irons are a lot flatter now with less spin.
“It makes it very difficult to compete in a major championship, but it does just fine on the Champions Tour.”
He was 7 over after a 74.
GOOSEN’S OPEN FUTURE: Retief Goosen earned a 10-year exemption to play in the U.S. Open after winning his second title in 2004.
That comes to an end this year, meaning Goosen is hoping to finish high enough this weekend to secure a spot at Chambers Bay in 2015.
The top 10 and ties earn exemptions into the following year’s Open.
The 45-year-old Goosen, ranked 214th in the world, finished Saturday with his second straight 1-over 71, putting him at 5-over 215.
“I’ve had a good run in the U.S. Open,” he said, “and if I make it into next year, great.”