Graeme McDowell admitted he needs to “clear his mind” after his bid for a third successive Alstom Open de France title came to an ignominious early end. However, after a short break McDowell was back out on the course which will stage the 2018 Ryder Cup and slumped to a second round of 78, his worst score in 32 rounds at the venue. “I struggled to get on the fairway mainly and, as firm and as fast as this course is, if you’re not hitting the fairway you have a bit of a problem getting close to the flag,” said McDowell, whose sole top-10 finish on the European Tour this season came in the Dubai Desert Classic on February 1. “It’s just a bad first nine both days. I rescued it coming in last night but it was a fast turnaround from a 9pm finish last night to an early start this morning and I just didn’t come out of the blocks this morning at all. “It’s very disappointing, this course has been so good to me over the years, just not to be this year. It’s a work in progress, I’ll keep grinding and it’s a big summer ahead.” McDowell, who missed the cut on eight over par after a round containing two double bogeys, three bogeys and no birdies, added on Sky Sports 4: ” I have a lot of technique in my head to be honest and I have to strip that out; I’ve got to get back to basics and try to clear the mind. “I’ve been working too hard on trying to get the technique fixed and been making it worse. I know it’s in there; you take the rough with the smooth and it’s been a great three or four years. I will dig this out and I’ll be back.” At the other end of the leaderboard, McDowell’s Ryder Cup partner Victor Dubuisson – the pair won both of their foursomes matches together at Gleneagles – shared the halfway lead with Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello on four under par. Home favourite Dubuisson held a two-shot lead when he followed a birdie on the fifth by holing his approach to the next from 107 yards for an eagle, but carded three bogeys and one birdie in the last 11 holes in a round of 70. “There were two shots I hit on eight and nine that finished in a bad spot and made bogeys there and on this course it can turn really bad, but I made a great par on 10 and nice birdie on 12 and I’m very happy with how I played today,” Dubuisson told Sky Sports 4. “I’m very excited about the weekend but on this course you can easily make mistakes so I will have to play well again tomorrow.” Former champion Kaymer, who missed the cut in defence of his US Open title at Chambers Bay, found water with his approach to the 15th to card a double bogey, but recovered in style with his fourth birdie of the day on the 18th to return a second consecutive 69. Cabrera-Bello has finished finished fourth, 13th, second and 11th in his last four events, but bogeyed the 72nd hole in the Irish Open to miss out on a play-off and shot rounds of 74 and 71 after taking the halfway lead in Munich last week. The 31-year-old said: ” Obviously some things have been going wrong because my scoring during the first two days compared to Sunday is not quite the same. But I’m working on that, so I’m going to keep knocking on the door and one day, it will open.” English trio Tyrrell Hatton, James Morrison and Daniel Brooks were a shot off the lead alongside Francesco Molinari and Jaco van Zyl, with Brooks carding a 66 that is the lowest of the week so far by two shots. Italy’s Renato Paratore finished alongside McDowell on eight over par, but claimed a place in the record books with 18 fours in his second round of 72 – three birdies, four bogeys and 11 pars. It is understood to be the first time that has happened in European Tour history. McDowell was one of 42 players unable to complete their opening rounds on schedule at Le Golf National after thunderstorms on Thursday resulted in a delay of almost two-and-a-half hours. The former US Open champion had just one hole remaining when play resumed at 0730 local time on Friday and made par on the 18th to complete an opening 72 and lie just four shots off the lead. Press Association
Learn the words for England’s catchy Gareth Southgate song You’re the one LU BEAUTY The Serbian’s performances have now led to clubs enquiring about his price tag and if he could be on the move this summer.Manchester United sounded out Lazio earlier on in June and swiftly ended their pursuit when they found out Milinkovic-Savic would cost £131m.The Old Trafford club deemed that price tag simply too expensive and, according to El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona share that view.Like Manchester United, the Spanish champions touched base with Lazio about Milinkovic-Savic recently. Arsenal star Laurent Koscielny admits he didn’t want France to win World Cup 1 Serbia World Cup star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Latest World Cup news Southgate makes young England fan’s day by replying to his letter Watch every goal England scored at the 2018 World Cup Fallon d’Floor Paul Pogba buys France World Cup winners specially designed rings NO JOY Dele Alli reveals pre-match rituals and lucky charms he has before matches Good times Olivier Giroud confirms N’Golo Kante is the nicest man in football misery ‘It could have been me’ – Allardyce admits World Cup was tough to watch Why does Luis Suarez kiss his wrist when he celebrates a goal? diamond geezer Shy guy SUPERSTITION A reminder to Liverpool fans about the very comical threat Neymar offers Pure class Barcelona have followed Manchester United’s lead by also pulling out of the race for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.The midfielder was on fire in Serie A for Lazio last season and finished the campaign with an impressive 12 goals to his name. However, they have since withdrawn their interest after learning the 23-year-old will cost £131m.That has left just Juventus and Real Madrid as the two clubs still fighting to sign the Lazio midfielder this summer.talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.