McDowell ready for Major push

Graeme McDowell believes Padraig Harrington has shown him the way to Major glory.

And the Ulsterman plans to get in on the act this season putting quality ahead of quantity.

Re-charged after two months off, McDowell kicks off his eighth season on tour in this week's Dubai Desert Classic with his sight firmly fixed on the Majors.

McDowell said: "At the minute it is difficult to get your head round what Padraig has just done but it definitely gives you the feeling that Major championships are there to be won.

"All you got to do is have a lot of mental belief, work very hard and have a fantastic short game. He's shown that it is possible.

"I have been working with Pete Cowen on my short game for a year and a half and if I can keep doing what he is telling me to do, I can get better and better."

McDowell scorched back to form last year, winning the Ballantine's Championship in Korea and the Barclays Scottish Open to clinch his Ryder Cup debut at Valhalla.

Now he wants to continue the upward trend by sharpening up his short game so he can close the gap on Harrington in the race for Major glory.

Ranked 34th in the world, McDowell is guaranteed a start in all four Majors for the first time in his career and firmly believes he's close to becoming a real contender.

But he has to make sure he has the patience to last the pace after falling away in the Open and the US PGA last term.

At Royal Birkdale he held a share of the first round lead and trailed by just three shots at halfway before a third round 80 wrecked his chances.

He eventually finished tied 11 shots behind Harrington in a share of 19th and then claimed 15th behind the Dubliner in the US PGA despite a closing 73.

He said: "Being so close to Padraig and watching him do it, in a funny way, makes it more difficult to comprehend what he is doing.

"Maybe five or ten years down the line we will look back and say, 'Wow, that was amazing.'

"I took a lot from playing average in the US PGA and still finishing inside the top 15 and I have given myself a chance in maybe half a dozen Majors so far in my career.

"I have been in the mix going into the weekend and I have been trying to work it out what it is that gets you over the finish line in these things.

"Obviously they are mentally and physically demanding weeks. You have got to stay patient because they really are marathons.

"I have to force myself to stay patient but the missing link is the short game. I have got to get better and better around the greens and I believe I have got the rest of the attributes that are required and it is just a question of chipping away at it."

McDowell played 30 events last year but plans to cut back this season and has already skipped the first two legs of the European Tour's desert swing.

He said: "Dubai is going to be my kick off. I just wanted to have a bit of a break. It was a long season last year and it is amazing how quickly everything gets off and running."

McDowell is joined in Dubai by Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Damien McGrane, Gareth Maybin, Paul McGinley and Gary Murphy.

But he won't have McIlroy for company in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera in Los Angeles after the sponsor's opted to invite Masters bound Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa.

The European Tour is the place to be at this time of year with Qatar Masters winner Alvaro Quiros racking up 54 world ranking points compared to just 32 for Bob Hope Classic champion Pat Perez.

Now 28th in the world, Quiros is one of 16 top 50 players in action in Dubai though the PGA Tour has the slightly stronger field this week 18 of the top 50 playing the FBR Open in Phoenix.