Graeme McDowell knows a thing or two about playing golf with Tiger Woods and was enthused to learn the two of them would join Louis Oosthuizen for the first two rounds of this week’s British Open.
More to the point, the 33-year-old, one-time major champion believed that the luck of the draw improved his own chances of hoisting his second major trophy.
"I have played enough golf with Tiger to know what to expect on Thursday and Friday," G-Mac told reporters on Tuesday. "He’s always a great guy to play with, very complimentary. He’s the best player in the world and maybe the best player ever, so he’s the sort of guy you want to play with, especially on a week like this."
McDowell has a history with the world No. 1 that began when he replaced Woods in the field after injuries sustained during that infamous Thanksgiving night car crash forced the tournament host to withdraw from the 2009 Chevron World Challenge.
Tiger’s stand-in took inspiration from his runner-up finish to Jim Furyk and went on to win the U.S. Open six months later. McDowell also stood up to Woods at the subsequent World Challenge, defeating him on the first hole of overtime -- after his opponent's then-caddie Steve Williams ripped off his looper's bib in premature anticipation of his boss’ win in regulation.
McDowell remains a huge Tiger booster, though the winner of 14 major titles has gotten the better of Rory McIlroy’s Northern Irish compatriot of late. Woods left his final-round playing partner in his dust when he ended his extended winless drought at Bay Hill last year and again at Doral in March.
Prior to Woods’ two-shot win over Steve Stricker at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, McDowell avowed that he was ready for the raucous galleries that follow golf’s marquee player from hole to hole.
"I've learned a lot over the years playing with him," he said at the time. "You know, Tiger always brings his own interesting little circus inside the ropes....The intimidating thing about playing with him is what goes on inside the ropes....I've played with him enough now to feel comfortable."
While McDowell this week credited Woods with boosting the talent level and "athletic nature" of golf, thanks to the "superhuman" way in which he tallied major win after major win in the early- to mid-2000s, he said he would watch with interest Tiger's game plan and then try to bludgeon him with his own.
"[Tiger’s] a kind of guy if you can finish one ahead of this week, you might not be that far away," said McDowell, who chose not to mention the fact that Woods had not won a major since 2008. "I’ll be very excited about that pairing, and the obvious natural intensity that brings, and I’ll be using that to my advantage."
The Woods-McDowell-Oosthuizen threesome was slated to tee off Thursday at 9:45 a.m. ET and 4:45 a.m. on Friday.