Another Ryder Cup partner hint from McDowell?

Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson chat during round two of the Alstom Open de France. Picture: David Lloyd /

Perhaps it was only politeness and a bone for the French media but Graeme McDowell is not backing away from talk of a potential Ryder Cup partnership with Victor Dubuisson.

With the exact state of his relationship with Rory McIlroy something of a unknown factor since the Rory McIlroy Inc lawyers indirectly dragged McDowell into the Holywood star's increasingly tense Commercial Court battle with Horizon Sports Management, who knows what kind of Ryder Cup chemistry there will be between the two come September.

They don't play practice rounds at the majors these days, mainly to avoid the awkward meetings of their respective "teams".

But having hinted at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February that Dubuisson might be a good Ryder Cup partner, the Portrush man repeated himself following his French Open victory on Sunday:

"Yeah, Victor is a great player and he's a very nice guy. Looking forward to hopefully being on The Ryder Cup Team with him. We suggested that we might even try and play together.  I like him a lot.  He's a very nice guy.  You know, he's very quiet and introverted quite shy.  You forget how young he is."

Given McIlroy's penchant for taking his time to make up his mind on an issue before suddenly coming up with a surprising decision, it is not impossible that a settlement might be reached in a case that is not due to be heard in court until January.

As things stand, McDowell is not yet in Paul McGinley's side anyway. But he has taken pressure off himself heading into the next two majors as well as the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, by moving to within striking distance of an automatic berth.

Even if he fails to make it on merit, McGinley is likely to pick him if he's very close to the team, even if there is a danger that they might not be as close as they once were. Given the Ryder Cup's power to bring players who ignore each other together like blood brothers for a week, the Ryder Cup may well prove to be the key to undoing the legal knot that McIlroy finds himself tied up in right now.

As for the shape of his team — nine make it automatically — captain McGinley knows that McDowell is playing well, as he showed in the Irish Open and especially in Paris over the past few weeks.

And having seen him play a deliberately sparse schedule recently to stay fresh for the intense July-August-September run, McGinley's clearly comfortable that one of his top players will make the side.

He’s not in the team at the moment and has to still play well over the next couple of months — but he’s looking good.
— Paul McGinley on Graeme McDowell's Ryder Cup situation

Speaking to the BBC, McGinley said: "If you look at Graeme's record this year, he has actually played very well. He has had a lot of top 10s. He hasn't  played as much as the others guys have played, he says that himself. He knows he's fresh and maybe could have added one or two more events than he did. But it looks like it is working out okay for him.

"Big win last week. He was in my mind in terms of being ou... a Ryder Cup player obviously. He is even more so in my mind now having won the French Open. But still he's got two more months to go. There are a lot of guys with good pedigree and rookies there trying to make the team. So he's not in the team at the moment and has to still play well over the next couple of months — but he's looking good."

As for potential pairings, it's still far too soon but McGinley has clearly been looking at his potential team members and coming up with ideas. Asked about US Open champion Martin Kaymer at the Irish Open, he pointed out that the German is almost the ultimate wildcard — a player who can play with anyone.

McDowell has partners McIlroy six times in the last two Ryder Cups. But he played with Miguel Angel Jiménez, Pádraig Harrington and Ian Poulter on his debut in 2008.

Like Kaymer, he may well fill a floating role again this time, assuming he wins his fourth cap at Gleneagles.