By Brian Keogh
Graeme McDowell can’t wait to grab a Indian takeaway in this week’s Indian Masters after breaking into the world’s top 100 again.
But the realistic Ulsterman, 28, has called on his fans to stay patient as he bids to end a victory drought that goes back to 2004.
After finishing fifth behind a rampant Tiger Woods in the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, McDowell will tee it up in Delhi with his confidence sky high and a huge boost to his world, European Order of Merit and Ryder Cup ranking.
And while he’s a little frustrated that he hasn’t won since he took the Italian Open nearly four years ago, he's prepared to take it one shot at a time.
Up 23 places to 87th in the latest world rankings, McDowell said: “I am dying to win a tournament but you can’t let that get in the way of the next shot you are going to hit.
“Winning tournaments is very difficult. It’s four rounds with great players and the standard is very high. It really is very hard to get it across the line these days.”
McDowell pointed to the leaderboard in Dubai, where he finished four strokes behind world No 1 Woods and just two adrift of new No 4 Ernie Els on 10 under par.
He said: “Ernie Els is one of the best players in the world and Tiger has given him a four shot start and taken him out. It is difficult to get across the line.
“So all you can do is try and string four rounds together. If you are taking up the silverware, then great but you have to take the positives every week and keep working hard.
“I’d have snapped your arm off for fifth place in Dubai at the start of the week. If you haven't won, you are always disappointed walking off the last green. But as the same time you have got to be retrospective.
“This is a quality golf tournament. You only have to look at the leaderboard to see what a quality tournament it is with the best players in the world. To be in the mix with the best players in the world makes me very happy.”
McDowell hasn’t paid much attention to the world rankings for the past few years but might start looking at them again soon after Sunday’s boost.
Victory in Delhi would be enough to get into the world's top 64 before the cut off date for the WGC - Accenture Match in Arizona from February 20-24.
He joked: “I tend not to look at those world rankings unless there is something to look at. Anyway, I don’t feel like the world ranking reflect how I have improved over the last 12 months.
"I feel that I have played better and that my improvement level is much better than that. But I have got to keep punching away. I have got to be consistent and that’s what I am striving before this year.”
McDowell made a whirlwind start to his professional career when he won the Scandinavian Masters in just his fourth European Tour start in 2002.
He then went on to beat Thomas Levet in a play-off in Italy in 2004 before surging into the world’s top 50.
His star waned in 2006, when he tried to make the breakthrough on the PGA Tour but lost his card and failed to make the Ryder Cup team for the matches at The K Club.
But he’s back on track again with new management group Horizon Sports and after grabbing his fourth top ten in the space of two months, he’s gunning for his place in Nick Faldo’s side for the matches at Valhalla next September.
Now ranked 16th in the Ryder Cup European Points list, McDowell said: “I am dying to get back into the winner’s circle. But you can’t rush these things.
“Getting more Ryder Cup points and world ranking points is good for my confidence. It is early in the season but my game feels in great shape. I am very happy with my last three weeks work.
“I hit it great in Abu Dhabi but missed the cut and then in Qatar I was frustrated I wasn’t in the mix more.
“Now I’ve got India this week and it’s a great field with the likes of Ernie playing and I know the course there. It will be nice to get two weeks off after that to recharge the batteries a little.
“But I’m back in Asia again after that for three in a row with the Johnnie Walker in Delhi, the Malaysian Open and the new event in Korea, the Ballantines.”