By Brian Keogh
Adrenalin junkie Graeme McDowell wants to ride his wave of red-hot form to Open glory at Royal Birkdale.
The Ulsterman, 28, is feeling on top of the world after scorching to a career high 29th in the rankings thanks to his Barclays Scottish Open win at Loch Lomond.
And while he’s now a racing certainty to make his Ryder Cup debut in September and challenging for the Order of Merit with more than €1.5 million in the bank, he’s putting the bubbly on hold and relying on adrenaline to challenge for the Open.
Determined to get straight back to business, McDowell said: “Of the four majors, this is the one I feel I have the game to win at the minute and momentum is absolutely massive in this game.
“I have been in the mix for two or three weeks and I am really happy with all the things I am doing. Momentum is everything and I feel like I have a fair bit of it at the moment.”
McDowell is living a dream right now after turning his career around in the space of eight months thanks to two European Tour wins.
After five years with Chubby Chandler’s ISM stable, he felt he needed a fresh start and moved to Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management in December.
Targeting multiple wins, a Ryder Cup place and a return to the world’s top 50 after four years in the doldrums, he ticked off all his goals in double quick time.
On Sunday night, he handed his manager Conor Ridge the keys to his Porsche 911 as they sped down from Loch Lomond to Preston for the wedding of Darren Clarke’s caddie Phil “Wobbly” Morbey.
McDowell had just one glass of champagne on the way but was soon screaming and whooping with delight as the realisation of what he had just done hit home.
He partied for just a few hours at Morbey’s wedding before getting set for this week’s Major test.
Now he believes that the adrenaline buzz he is experiencing will keep him going at Birkdale as be bids to snatch the Claret Jug from Padraig Harrington and move up to a new level
And he is convinced that he is now a far better player than the one that led the Open after the first day at Hoylake in 2006 before slithering to 61st in the end.
He said: "When I led The Open in Hoylake in 2006, I wasn't playing particularly well. I just had one of those rounds where everything went in the fairway and I holed a few putts and bang, I was leading The Open. But I didn't have the belief in my swing that I do now.
“I have been hitting great shots under pressure, which is always massive for your confidence. There is no substitute for the confidence you get from winning and that will hopefully stand me in good stead this week.
“I am still buzzing. It has been a little bit of a whirlwind but I only had a glass of champagne last night because I have to get the head screwed on for this week. I
“I have not had much time to celebrate and I will get into game mode tomorrow morning with a practice round. Once I get out there again it will be back to business.”
This will be McDowell’s fifth event on the trot but knows that the excitement of the Open will keep him going on a links course he loves.
He said: “ If you can’t get up for this week, you can’t get up for any week to be honest. But adrenaline is huge as well and it is going to have to be because this is my fifth week in a row and that’s my limit.
“I feel reasonably fresh and I will know better tomorrow how I feel. I am just looking forward to getting out there tomorrow morning and putting my business head on again.
“I will have a chilled out approach for the next few days and play 18 tomorrow and maybe nine on Wednesday. I will try to rest up as much as I can and stay off the champers.”