Graeme McDowell would love to see a €5m Irish Open on a links course nearer to The Open. Picture: Fran Caffrey / www.golffile.ieDeep thinkers are in short supply among the golfing elite but Graeme McDowell could never be accused of failing to think outside the box when it comes to the fate of the beleaguered European Tour.

With the Irish Open now in its fourth year without a title sponsor and the European Tour’s elite fleeing like lemmings to the PGA Tour - only two members of the 2012 Ryder Cup team have resisted the temptation to join the US circuit — the 33-year old Portrush man knows how crucial it is for the top players to do their bit for the cause.

Playing in the Irish Open is the least players like McDowell can do and he’s more than happy to try and tick his national title off his “bucket list” of golfing ambitions.

Yet McDowell also knows there’s more to be done and he revealed that the elite members of the European Tour sat down from an impromptu brain-storming session during last month’s BMW PGA at Wentworth to discuss ways to boost the European Tour.

Describing the sit down as a “brain dump”, McDowell explained: “Most of those guys are dual members, as in European Tour and PGA Tour and we were just trying to come up with better dates on the schedule that will fit everyone and come up with strategies whereby guys can to come back and support not just their National Opens but other events.”

McDowell’s close pal Keegan Bradley played in the Irish Open at Royal Portrush last year because both the date and the venue were attractive.

But the 2010 US Open champion would like to see more progressive thinking on the European Tour and believes that not only should the Irish Open work harder to attract and title sponsor and a bigger prize fund, it should also have a more attractive date alongside the Scottish Open and The Open, creating a proper “Links Swing.”

“We are all very motivated to try and reinstate The Irish Open as one of the premiere events on the European Tour,” McDowell said.  “What do we need for that?  We need a great date on the schedule; two weeks after the US Open, three weeks before the British Open is a tough enough date to attract a world class field.  

Graeme McDowell listens to a question during his media conference at Carton House. Picture: Fran Caffrey /“We need a great sponsor.  We need to boost this tournament financially and make it a little bit more lucrative, try and attract a world class field.”

McDowell believes the European Tour needs to work harder to boost certain segments of the schedule and create mini “swings” that are similar to the PGA Tour’s geographical strategy.

“There’s no doubt, we’re struggling,” McDowell said. “We’re struggling for great events in Britain and Ireland and Continental Europe and that’s an issue we are all trying to address, trying to come up with better dates on the schedule that suit everyone.  

“Perhaps a nice swing around Wentworth, a nice swing around The Open Championship, and potentially a swing around the Dunhill Links area, as well.  

“Those are areas on the schedule that we are all looking at and trying to come up with a plan as to how we make the events more lucrative, financially and from a venue point of view.

“The Irish Open, to me, is one of the events that will slot into those parts of the schedule.  Why couldn’t we play a phenomenal links golf course the week before or the week after the British Open here in Ireland for four or five million euro? That would be a class opportunity and attract a world class field.

“I think golfing in Ireland, players love to come here.  You only have to look at years gone past; the Tiger Woods of the world flying in here the weeks before The Open and bouncing around the great golf courses that we have to offer —  the Portrushes and the County Downs and the Watervilles and the Ballybunions and Portmarnock and the many courses around Dublin.  We don’t struggle for great venue here in Ireland, let’s be honest.

“Obviously with Keegan Bradley coming across to Portrush last year, he was a great supporter of the event, loved his experience here.  

“I know that he would come back if we can get the right date and the right venue, and more would follow, there’s no doubt about that.”

McDowell would love to raise a Guinness in celebration at Carton House on Sunday after too many years drowning his Irish Open sorrows.

The world No 9 is desperate to be 12th time lucky in his national open and grab his third win of a roller-coaster season he already considers a success following wins in the RBC Heritage and Volvo World Match Play.

Despite missing the cut in the Masters and the US Open, he said: “As much as it hurts coming down the stretch at Merion knowing that I’m heading for my second missed the cut on the spin, in the big picture, my season will still read very strong.  

“Two wins, two top 5s in WGCs - I wouldn’t swap that season for last year’s season where I was 12th at the Masters, second at the US Open [and fifth in The Open].

“It’s been an erratic year, certainly on paper.  Has not felt quite that erratic kind of in my head.  I feel like I’m getting better all the time.”

An Ulsterman has not won the Irish Open since his fellow Portrush man Fred Daly triumphed at Portmarnock in 1946.

“It’s been nearly seventy years since a Northern Irish player has won this event,” McDowell said.  “That’s a stat we would love to change this weekend.”