As the first Irish winner on The 2008 European Tour International Schedule, Graeme McDowell is eyeing this year’s Irish Open with a keen sense of anticipation and renewed feeling of confidence.
The 28 year old from Portrush in Northern Ireland secured his third European Tour career victory at the Ballantine’s Championship ten days ago after an unforgettable sudden-death play-off with Jeev Milkha Singh that culminated with McDowell’s stunning seven iron approach to just 18 inches.
McDowell’s tap-in birdie secured victory and confirmed that the man once considered one of Europe’s finest young talents was back to his best and a strong contender to fulfil his ultimate goal for the season, qualification for a place on Nick Faldo’s European Ryder Cup Team.
McDowell believes he will have to add to his Ballantine’s success if he is to secure a place in the 12 man Team that will defend The Ryder Cup at Valhalla this September, and he would like nothing more than to follow 2007 Irish Open champion Padraig Harrington into the winners’ enclosure at the stunning Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort.
“I’m excited about the Irish Open already,” said McDowell. “I think Adare Manor was a fantastic setup last year, so I'm really looking forward to going back. Now that Harrington has broken the Irish duck, hopefully he has opened the floodgates for more Irishmen to do it.
“I'll be going down there with a lot of confidence. Every tournament between now and The Ryder Cup is very, very important to me, and the Irish Open is a prime one on my schedule.
“The fact that it is the first tournament back on British and Irish soil for the season makes it even more exciting and there is certainly a unique aspect to the Irish Open. It's got a very traditional flair to it and is steeped in history, and like I said, Adare is a pretty spectacular setting.
“There are not many golf courses with that kind of setting with the way the Manor and the hotel are so prominent, so I'm looking forward to getting back there, as always.”