McDowell feeling good for Italian job

By Brian Keogh

Go-getter Graeme McDowell believes he is on the verge of something really big.

And it could come in Milan this week where he is bidding for his second Italian Open title at the scene of his last tournament victory three years ago.

The Ulsterman, 27, will tee it up at Castello di Tolcinasco brimming with confidence.

And while he admits that his recent results are nothing to write home about, he knows that his best golf is just bubbling under the surface.

McDowell beamed: "In the next few months, I am ready to do something really big. That may sound as if I’m putting undue pressure on myself to perform, but that’s what I thrive on.

"Pressure is my adrenaline, it’s golf’s equivalent of a white water ride.

"Feeling the heat of competition, the joy of pitting your skills against the toughest courses and the best players – that’s what I’m out here for and I’m really excited about the prospects for the summer and beyond.

"What has increased my hopes and expectations is having absolute confidence in the people around me, and none more than my new coach, Clive Tucker, and my caddie, Ken Comboy.

"They don’t teach rocket science, they just happen to be masters in common sense with a close eye for detail.

"I’m a great believer in keeping everything simple because a golfer does not need extra clutter in his mind.

"Clarity of thought is an essential once any player moves into contention to win, particularly during the final round.

McDowell is currently languishing at 110th in the world rankings - a mere two years after breaking into the top 40.

Scheduling problems led to a loss of form as he chased his PGA Tour dream and a Ryder Cup spot.

He ended up letting both slip through his fingers but with new coach Tucker and experienced bagman Comboy at his side, he feels ready to climb to the summit of European golf again.

He said: "The input from Clive and Ken really allows me the freedom to move in the right direction, both in how to prepare and how to improve.

"If you have the detail right then the big picture often takes care of itself.

"All the hard work we have been doing over the last couple of months has given me the confidence to attack my season’s objectives with optimism. And I feel that I am ready to deliver.

"My body and game have certainly been given a thorough screening at the Callaway test facility in California and the results showed that I am definitely working in the right areas, both on the practice tee as well as in the gym.

"There have been one or two big events in recent times which I would dearly have loved to have been at and for sure the WGC-Match Play in Tucson was one."

McDowell played in the clashing PGA Tour event in Mexico, finishing 63rd before finishing 60th in the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand.

A five-week break, which included some deep sea fishing in Florida, gave him time to recharge his batteries and he showed some promising form on his return.

Tied for second in the Volvo China Open three weeks ago, he was ninth in the BMW Asian Open the following week and then claimed 24th place in the Spanish Open on Sunday.

He said: "The foundations are in place and I’m ready to go. Now I’m ready to swim with golf’s big fish again."