McDowell to silence American fans

Graeme McDowell can't wait to gag the beer-fuelled US fans at Valhalla and continue Ireland's great Ryder Cup tradition.

The former US college star knows what it takes to beat the Americans after snatching Tiger Woods' collegiate scoring record with Alabama and then grabbing Walker Cup glory in Georgia.

And he's determined to give the Yanks a run for their money on US soil by letting loose with the aggressive style of play in an cauldron of excitement.

Bursting to tee it up after missing out at The K Club two years ago, McDowell said: "Playing in the Ryder Cup is something I’ve been dreaming about. Irish players have such an affinity with it. You always think of Christy O’Connor's two-iron at the Belfry in 1989 or Eamonn Darcy's putt in 1987.

"We had Philip Walton holing the winning putt at Oak Hill in 1995, Paul McGinley at the Belfry in 2002, and Darren Clarke at the K Club in '06.

"That’s probably one of the reasons I love it as much as I do. It certainly hurt at the K Club not to be a part of the team. I knew I had the game for it but I wasn’t going about things the right way or playing well enough.

"The Sunday singles are incredible. I always remember Monty leading the team out at the Belfry in 2002. It just gives you goosebumps. I used to plump myself down in front of the biggest TV I could find and never miss a shot."

The atmosphere will be electric in Louisville, which was plunged into darkness on Sunday night as the tail end of Hurricane Ike left thousands of homes without power.

And that's just fine by Manchester United fan McDowell, who is convinced that golf needs more noise and reckons that he will be inspired by an Old Trafford style roar.

He said: "There are 50,000 people following four games. We don’t get enough of that. The crowd just go nuts. Fans don’t get a chance to be rowdy enough in golf.

"We need more like it is at the par three 16th at the Phoenix Open where the fans go crazy. It’s fantastic - the nearest thing we’ll ever get to playing at Old Trafford. It’s the nearest golf ever gets to being like a football match.

"All this Quiet Please and people who can hear a pin drop from 100 yards - we need to lose a little bit of that image from the game. Get the fans more into it.

"Golf fans are pretty respectful and know when to be quiet and when to cheer. I’m all for upping the noise level at tournaments. Golf sometimes forgets that it’s part of the entertainment industry.

"It always annoys me when guys give fans crap for moving and making noise. At the end of the day, the fans are paying our wages. We are entertainers."

McDowell punished himself for missing the 2006 Ryder Cup by doing media work at The K Club for RTE and the BBC.

But thanks to his wins in the Ballantine's Championship in Korea and the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, he believes he is more than just a rookie.

McDowell added: "I’ve always loved team golf. One of my earliest ambitions was to have a bag with the Ireland flag on it. I’ve played a lot of matchplay team golf as an amateur.

"I enjoy the buzz the night before when the draw comes out and the camaraderie in the team room. And, you know, let’s go and get ’em tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Faldo is going to be like in the team room and the locker room.

"And I know the guys well enough not to feel like a rookie. I have played enough golf with them and I have played in the States and know a lot of the US team, too. But they will know a lot more about what is going to happen in a week like that and will be able to help me."

McDowell has made no secret of the fact that he wants to partner Harrington in foursomes but he would settle for a game with any of Europe's top guns.

He said: "Henrik would be a great betterball partner. You know, a guy who is just going to kill it out there and make plenty of birdies. Padraig would be great in the foursomes. A real grinder and scrambler. What Padraig has done is inspirational and shows what you can do with hard graft.

"Ben Hogan always said he dug it out of the ground. Harrington has worked so hard to turn himself into a world-class professional. And Sergio is really going to fire you up and get you pumped. He’d be pure emotion. Miguel would be a great partner because he just doesn’t miss fairways. I would happily play with anyone. I would love to play five games. I don’t want to just be making up the numbers."

Tied for 16th behind Ryder Cup team mate Robert Karlsson in the Mercedes Benz Championship in Cologne last week, McDowell has been picking the brains of his team mates and hoped that nerves don't get the better of him in Louisville.

He joked: "I have heard the first tee at Valhalla is elevated so at least I’ll get it airborne . I’ve heard some horror stories. I remember the first time I teed it up as a boy international for Ireland. I was hitting a 2-iron and thinking ‘please just make contact’.

"I’m so excited to get there and see how nervous I get. I was pretty nervous coming down the stretch at Loch Lomond. My second shot to 16 was as nervous as I’ve ever been.

"I hope the Ryder Cup isn’t going to be any worse than that (laughs). I’ve heard that players get so nervous, they think they might actually miss the ball. I think Faldo said that. That’s just crazy.

"I've had some good conversations with Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke and a few of the boys who have played in the Ryder Cup.

"I know it's going to be a tiring week and that's what they have been reiterating to me is that it is important to make sure you prepare like you always prepare for a big event."