Three weeks ago he was worried he’d struggle to hit the draw. Then the hooks reappeared with a vengeance. Yesterday, all was well in the world of Graeme McDowell once more as he worked the ball both ways through the Cathedral of Pines.
After a weekend spent hitting hundreds of balls with his coach Pete Cowen, the US Open champion has his ball under control once more. In fact, he believes he’s armed and potentially dangerous as he counts down to the opening major of the season.
“I wasn’t rotating very well through the ball,” McDowell said before heading out for a practice round with Ian Poulter and Justin Rose. “My right shoulder gets a bit low and my left shoulder gets a bit high. So I am just trying to keep my rotation a little bit more level through impact and I am seeing the ball starting to behave itself again.”
Cowen arrived at Lake Nona on Thursday and found a concerned McDowell waiting anxiously for him to put things right with the swing that could do no wrong for most of 2010.
“He wasn’t very happy when I got to Florida,” the Sheffield coach explained. “He just wasn’t using his body very well so he couldn’t control the impact. He got up and out of it and the club face was shut and the ball was going left. It was pretty simple stuff. The usual stuff. Nothing new.
“He’s fine. He just needs to work his body a bit better. That’s all. He is controlling the ball flight better. He was very good Saturday afternoon, very good Sunday morning. And good yesterday. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. But you have still got the hole the putts.”
McDowell has missed the cut in two of his three appearances at Augusta but reckons he’s far better equipped to cope around the greens this year.
And while Phil Mickelson insists that all out attack is the only way to take on Augusta and win, McDowell is still wary of the dangers that lie in store, despite the marked improvement in his short game over the past 12 months.
“The idea is to have a better short game so you can go at pins in a smart way,” he said. “I mean, if you hit it in position Z out there, I don’t care who you are, you have a hell of a job getting up and down.
“I’m hoping I can be more aggressive this year because I have a better short game. That’s the plan. We will put it under pressure and see how it goes.
“It’s funny but they way I have played the last three or four weeks has put a lot of pressure on my short game and I have had a chance to test it under pressure. So it’s actually been constructive.”
Mickelson is regarded as the man to beat this week following his 16 under par weekend and three-stroke win at the Shell Houston Open.
But while McDowell always knew that the left-hander would be a threat, he also knows that there are plenty of other contenders for the title in the ultra-competitive modern game.
“I called it three weeks ago. I thought Phil looked good at Doral despite a bad weekend,” he said. “I like the way he has been playing for a little while now, so it doesn’t surprise me.
“But I think this game becomes more wide open every year and guys are extremely talented. Every year there are more guys capable of winning.”