McDowell sees Major silver lining to Ryder Cup cloud

Graeme McDowell is shooting for Major glory after a brilliant Ryder Cup performance convinced him he can take his game to a new level.

The Ulsterman, 29, produced one of the great rookie debuts in recent memory with two wins and a half from his four matches at Valhalla.

And while he was gutted to finish up on the first European losing side since 1999, he can't wait to test his game in the Majors and set the Ryder Cup record straight at Celtic Manor in 2010.

Hugely impressive all week, McDowell said: "I am certainly going to be a different man from a Ryder Cup point of view.  I have given myself something to feed off for the future.

"Come Sunday afternoons in the Majors I will certainly be able to look back and take a lot of encouragement from how I have played under pressure this weekend.

"I am looking forward, looking to big tournaments, looking to majors. I am going to be feeding off the way I played today.

"I certainly showed the golfing world that I have a little bit extra in there and that I have a lot of heart when it comes to the game."

McDowell  teamed up with Padraig Harrington in Friday afternoon's fourballs but finished up on the losing side as Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan edged a classic encounter that featured 18 birdies.

But the Portrush hero showed his class at the weekend, impressing American stalwart Jim Furyk with his incredible play on Saturday before grinding out a 2 and 1 singles win over Stewart Cink on Sunday.

Beaten by McDowell and Ian Poulter in a sensational foursomes with Kenny Perry, Furyk said: "Graeme McDowell was absolutely on fire today. He played as good of golf as I've seen in The Ryder Cup."

And even Harrington was massively impressed by McDowell"s performances in the heat of Ryder Cup battle, explaining: "he's brilliant. I'm impressed. Very, very impressed. I've got to say he's a big player for the future, if he plays like that."

McDowell joked on Sunday that the Ryder Cup was "the best fun I've had on the golf course with my clothes on."

And while he would have loved to wrap up a great week for him personally by drinking out of the Ryder Cup on Sunday night, he still left Louisville feeling 10 feet tall.

He said: "I have certainly gained a lot of respect from my American peers this week that I played against.  When it comes to teeing it up against a Furyk or a Mickelson or a Perry down the stretch on a Sunday afternoon, I have stated my case that I have got the game to do things. There is no doubt that it will make me a better player going forward."

Proving he has the game to stand up to the highest pressure gave him massive satisfaction and after failing to qualify for the 2006 team at The K Club, he has no intention of missing another Ryder Cup for the rest of his career.

He said: "The standard of my play has exceeded my expectations obviously. I was not quite sure how I was going to handle things. It's been a blast.

"I have shown myself that yes, I can hit the shots under pressure. My golf swing can stand up to pressure. My putter can stand up to pressure. It is going to do a lot for me as far as my confidence and my overall confidence for a Sunday afternoon at any tournament in the world.

"I've hit the shots, a lot of great shots. Hopefully I will have more Ryder Cups to come as well. I have never had as much fun on a golf course as I have in the last three days.

"If I ever thought Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley and Monty weren't suffering not to be here, now I understand why they will be suffering.

"I said to my caddie the last few  days, I don't want to be anywhere else on the planet right now than on that golf course out there and the emotion and adrenaline and the energy and the buzz you are getting from the whole crowd is just amazing.

"I am hoping I get another 10 years of Ryder Cup. I have just got to keep doing what I am  doing. It has been worth all the hard work to get here and it has been an unbelievable experience."

McDowell felt he would have found it hard to get back into his routine had Europe retained the Ryder Cup but reckons that it will be easier to come to earth on the back of a defeat.

But he's so physically drained by the experience that he might pull out of this week"s British Masters at The Belfry, where he is expected to line up alongside Valhalla men Lee Westwood and Oliver Wilson.

He said: "I haven't been able to think straight since the team was picked because I have been so focussed on this.

"There is definitely plenty of closure. We haven'twon. It"s over. Done. From that point of view it is going to be easier to move on than it would have been if we had been reveling in the win.

"From my point of view I will be able to move on much quicker. I am certainly taking away some great form. I hit the ball great this week. I am really happy with a lot of the things that were going on.

"In a funny kind of way, I think winning it might have been tougher to move on from. Losing it might make it a little easier.

"I am going to go to the Belfry on Tuesday and see how I feel. If it comes to Wednesday and I am not really up for it, I might withdraw. I am 50-50 on it really."

Winning two and a half points from a possible four was little consolation to McDowell, who was dearly hoping to play a role in a fourth successive European victory.

He was deflated after the singles, despite playing brilliantly at No 9 to beat Stewart Cink 2 and 1, explaining: "I was hoping I was going to be needed. We were trying to dig deep, trying not to focus on what the other boys were doing. On the 16th fairway I discovered I wasn't going to be needed. It was certainly a deflation, there is no doubt about it.

"I would trade my point today for a team victory. It would have been nice to savour and experience the whole deal but it was not to be. We ran into a hot US team.

"I felt we had the team to do it but they just outplayed us unfortunately. You want a little bit of personal satisfaction but I loved every second of it. It was unbelievable. Everyone is pulling so hard for each other and I'd have loved to pick up that trophy tonight."