Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell believes he is finding his best form as he prepares to mount an assault on a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
The Northern Irishman, who recently announced he is to become a father for the first time later this year, has hit the ground running as he bids for a place in captain Paul McGinley’s side for the match at Gleneagles.
And with the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM giving him another opportunity to remind his skipper of his matchplay credentials, G-Mac is excited about what is shaping up to be a memorable year both on and off the course.
“My game feels pretty good at the moment.,” said McDowell. “I took a lot of time off at the start of the year, so have only played four events but the results have been encouraging.
“I have had three top ten finishes and two of those were World Golf Championships. So I guess I should be proud of how my season has started.”
McDowell, 34, won the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea in 2008, and is looking forward to playing in Asia again, this time in the EurAsia Cup, at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club, Kuala Lumpur from March 27-29.
He said: “I have always loved playing in Asia so it will be great to arrive in Malaysia for the EurAsia Cup.
“I’m pretty sure the Glenmarie will be a little warmer than Korea was but hopefully I can perform to a similar level as I did when I won the Ballantine’s Championship. Our sport has undergone a real period of globalisation over the past ten years or so and it is great to be able to play around the world.”
The Northern Irishman, a veteran of three Ryder Cups, has played under many different types of captain but is excited and to be working under Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez in two weeks’ time.
"There is obviously a man-to-man element of match play that you have to take into consideration." - Graeme McDowell
“The word ‘legend’ is often overused in sport and on tour but there has never been a more fitting word to describe Miguel,” added McDowell. “I think he will be a great captain. He is one of the most popular men in the sport and I think all of his players will go the extra mile for him.
“He also has a lot of Ryder Cup experience as a vice-captain and I am sure he will have learned a lot from that and will bring some fresh ideas to his captaincy.”
As a senior member of Team Europe, McDowell is aware he and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn may be called upon to assist with the younger players.
“Obviously, I have my own game to play and the first thing I need to do is win my points for the team, but if Miguel is looking for the likes of myself and some of the other more experienced players like Bjorn to help with the younger players then I am more than happy to make myself available,” he said. “I remember making my Ryder Cup debut in 2008 and it is always good to know there are experienced players on hand to help you.”
Graeme McDowell insists he doesn’t prepare any differently when it comes to matchplay golf but likes the way you can he can be more aggressive.
“With matchplay you still have to try and play your best so the general preparation is the same but there is obviously a man-to-man element of match play that you have to take into consideration during the game itself,” he said. “You have to be able to react and respond to what your opponent is doing which encourages a different mental approach, plus you can afford to play a lot more aggressively in match play as you play the match on a hole-by-hole basis as opposed to the usual strokeplay format we are used to.”
At the recent WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, McDowell got to see rising star Victor Dubuisson at close quarters. The Frenchman defeated him en route to the final, pictured above, and McDowell was impressed by what he saw.
“It looked to me that he has got the lot,” he said. “He hits the ball miles and has an unbelievable short game which most of the world was introduced to in Tucson. He is a young, fearless player and I look forward to being on his team as opposed to playing against him.
“We have a great balance. You look at the young players like Dubuisson and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen for that explosive and fearless approach and then you have the vast experience of the likes of Jimenez and Bjorn in there. Those two guys have been there and done everything there is to do in this game and I think we will see a lot of positive European performances at Glenmarie.
“One of the best things about the Team Europe is its diversity. There are a lot of potential pairings and combinations for Miguel to consider. I said in America a few weeks ago that I would love to team up with Victor and that is still the case but I will play with anyone on that team. They are all world-class players and we are all trying to achieve the same thing.”
Graeme McDowell: A matchplay hero once again?
Having secured the winning point in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, can Graeme McDowell be the European hero again in this year’s EurAsia Cup? Leave your thoughts on this and the event in general in our ‘Comments’ section below.