McDowell wants Clint to make Kenny's day
Graeme McDowell and his father Kenny are back at Pebble Beach for the first time since the 2010 US Open. Picture via @Graeme_McDowell

Graeme McDowell and his father Kenny are back at Pebble Beach for the first time since the 2010 US Open. Picture via @Graeme_McDowell

Graeme McDowell is back at the scene of his greatest triumph for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. But he's not dreaming of past glories as much as feeding on the good vibes to better plot the next step in what has become a model career.

He has his dad Kenny for company, which should mean a trip down memory lane recalling how McDowell Snr embraced him on the 72nd green, proudly exclaiming "you're some kid" after his second son had holed out on the 18th to capture the 2010 US Open on Father's Day.

Sure, McDowell is enjoying the trip back to the west coast, where he has won three times. But apart from playing Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula in the tournament and not forgetting the rounds he's already had with his Dad at Cypress Point and San Francisco Golf Club over the past few days, he has his eyes firmly fixed on his future not his glorious Californian past.

Graeme McDowell cradles the US Open trophy — and a beer — on his return to his hotel in 2010. Picture © Brian Keogh

Graeme McDowell cradles the US Open trophy — and a beer — on his return to his hotel in 2010. Picture © Brian Keogh

The 2010 season still ranks as his best ever as he went on to complete a dream year — the US Open was win No 2 of a four-win year that also saw him memorably clinching the winning putt for Europe in the Ryder Cup in Wales and out-putt Tiger Woods to win a heart-stopping playoff for the Chevron World Challenge.

But he's no longer the same man who touched the heavens that day.

He's changed from Callaway to Srixon/Cleveland equipment, picked up a slew of blue chip sponsors, opened a bar-restaurant and only recently married the stunning interior designer Kristin Stape.

At the age of 34, G-Mac is set for life but having also played his part in Europe's 2012 Ryder Cup win at Medinah and added six tournament victories to his resumé since the 2010 US Open, he's got more than a little unfinished business.

Winning more majors and qualifying for this year's Ryder Cup in Scotland are at the top of his wish list of goals for a player who has had just two Top-10s and missed six cuts in the 14 majors he has played since he captured one of golf's Grand Slam events.

Those Top-10s included two close calls, such as his runner up finish to Webb Simpson in the 2012 US Open down the road at San Francisco's Olympic Club and a share of fifth in that year's Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes, where he played with Adam Scott in that tragic final group on Sunday as Ernie Els snuck in to steal the Claret Jug.

"Of course, my first Major Championship and certainly the way it happened, to be here at Pebble with my dad and on Father's Day was emotionally ...  I don't think that moment will be beaten in my career," said McDowell, who is playing this week to knock the rust off his game ahead of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson in a fortnight's time. 

"But I'm not going to put Pebble up there on a pedestal and say that is the highlight of my career, because I want more. I want more Pebbles, I want more Major Championships, I want more things.  Hopefully it will not define my career.  I'm hoping to keep defining my career as I go."

Back in tournament mode after a 10-week break, the world No 15 will still be looking out for his Dad despite the fact that they have zero ambitions when it comes to claiming any Pro-Am prizes.

"My dad's a 10 handicap, kind of on the way down, unfortunately, kind of.  He's got a busted up knee, and he's got an old Portrush links game, doesn't fly it very far through the air, relies on a lot of run and a lot of around — along the ground short game...

"I think my dad's goal for the week is really to have a beer with Clint Eastwood, hopefully, on Friday night.  So that's the goal for the week.  If we achieve that, we'll be happy."

Many would say that McDowell "deserves" a second major or a place in Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup team. But as Eastwood famously growled in "Unforgiven" as he prepared to blow Little Bill away, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

The morning after the night before. Graeme McDowell sits down with the Irish media for interviews following his 2010 US Open victory. Picture © Brian Keogh

The morning after the night before. Graeme McDowell sits down with the Irish media for interviews following his 2010 US Open victory. Picture © Brian Keogh

A quick glance at the European Ryder Cup qualifying tables show that McDowell has work to do to win his fourth cap at Gleneagles. He was with skipper McGinley for a charity function in New York last week and knows exactly where he stands in the captain's plans.

As he wrote on his new monthly blog for the BBC Sport website:

"It is very early to get obsessed about it. Come May and June, form is going to be more important. I just know I have to give him all the reasons to have me in the side - ideally qualifying automatically and not having to rely on one of his three wildcard picks.

"Looking at the numbers, there are three or four players who already seem locked in to the team - the likes of Henrik Stenson, Victor Dubuisson, Thomas Bjorn and Jamie Donaldson.

"None of them played at Medinah last time so it's clear some good players are going to miss out and I'm acutely aware it could be me. That's why you just have to focus on your game and let the Ryder Cup come in a run of good form."

"What I was trying to say in the article was that I want to get stuck into my processes this season and let the Ryder Cup get in the way.  It's not going that I'm going to be getting obsessed by.  So we'll see.  But it's great."

Playing well in the big events will take care of the Ryder Cup for McDowell, who is more than a million points behind Bjorn, Dubuisson, Poulter and Stenson at 25th in the European Points List (four to qualify) and more than 30 world ranking points behind fifth man Stephen Gallacher at 21st in the World Points List.

"I'm actually scheduling myself to prepare myself more for the playoffs this year because I feel like I've been beat up by the time I've come to August, September, the last three years now," McDowell said, referring especially to last season when he won three times and missed five cuts in a 12-week spell early in the year before fading.  

"So my schedule revolves around being ready for the summer this year.  Being ready for August, September, the Ryder Cup, and so that's what I'm doing.

"I feel like my life has is quieting down off the golf course now as I achieve some balance and start to move on to some sort of new chapters in my life personally.  And I guess I feel like I'm in a better place to play golf now."

McDowell begins the event alongside his father at Spyglass Hill as five other Irishmen in the field — two pros and three amateurs — take on Pebble Beach.

Pádraig Harrington and JP McManus play opposite Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Dermot Desmond with McGinley partnering TaylorMade CEO Mark King and Gerry McManus alongside the American Heath Slocum.

It's the last chance saloon as far as Harrington is concerned if he's to qualify for the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson by moving in the top 64 in the world.

Ranked 134th in the world this week, he followed a fifth place finish in the no-cut Volvo Golf Champions in Durban with missed cuts by the minimum margin in Abu Dhabi and at last week's Waste Management Open in Phoenix, where he three-putted his final hole on Friday.

Uninspired putting and a very moderate wedge game are to blame for his lack of birdies, as the 42-year old confessed on his blog.

"I just haven't been hitting my wedges close enough... Overall I am happy with my game, I just need to make more birdies and to do this I need to hit it closer when I get the chance.  So when I have a short club in my hands I need to be giving myself decent chances for birdie...
"I am not panicking or worrying about my game, in fact, I am feeling good about it.  I just need to be a bit more aggressive and take the risk of making a bogey in order to make more birdies."