McDowell to impress Faldo in Cologne

Ryder Cup rookie Graeme McDowell wants to ease Nick Faldo’s selection headaches with a storming performance in Germany.

The Ulsterman, 29, tees it up in the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne with next week’s Ryder Cup obsessing his thoughts.

And with Faldo under pressure to get his pairings spot on, McDowell wants to show some form and put himself in line for a first day debut alongside top man Padraig Harrington.

McDowell confessed: “I am here to play well and here to perform but my thoughts are primarily in the States next week.

“Without taking anything away from this tournament, there is no doubt I have one eye on Valhalla. I have got a great chance here to get some confidence up for next week. But at the same time I am here to show the captain that I am still playing well.”

McDowell is joined at Gut Lärchenhof by Ryder Cup team mates Robert Karlsson, Soren Hansen and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

And without Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke or Luke Donald in the side, McDowell believes that finding partners for Harrington, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia will be a challenge for his skipper.

He said: “We've been toying with ideas the last few days, trying to match the players together. There's not a huge amount of obvious pairings that I can see.

“Maybe Henrik Stenson and Karlsson perhaps? Westwood and Garcia is obvious but he's mentioned that he's looking to guys like that to put an arm around some of the younger players.

“After that it becomes quite difficult. It's a tough team to put together. Nick has a tough job on his hands and I just hope we play well come Thursday next week to make his job a little easier.”

McDowell would love to continue the Irish Ryder Cup tradition alongside triple major winner Harrington.

Failing that he’d gladly join forces with mercurial Spaniard Garcia, who is one of his close friends.

McDowell said: “I think with another 10 players on the team I would love to play with Padraig, he's pretty much the best player in the world at the minute. I think Padraig is the obvious choice for me but I'm sure Nick has his own ideas.

“I have to say I would be excited to play with anyone. I feel like I get on well with Sergio and played with him a couple of times this year. So Padraig or Sergio, I don't think I'll be alone in those choices, no doubt about it.”

Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke complete the Irish quintet in action in Cologne.

And after missing out on the Ryder Cup, Clarke is determined to prove a point, explaining: “I really want to play very well this week of all weeks."