Graeme McDowell is banking on some Welsh wizardry to help break through a mental barrier ahead of his US Open defence.
The Ulsterman defends his Welsh Open title at Celtic Manor hoping to rediscover the magical putting touch that sparked the best season of his career into life last term.
After struggling on the greens in the BMW PGA at Wentworth last week, he’s desperate to boost his confidence on the course where he won the 2010 Ryder Cup for Europe with a solid, all round performance.
Up from 44th to fifth in the world since his last visit, McDowell said: “This is just the perfect place to come back to and to tune myself back into the way I felt last season. Win or lose this week, I will be well prepared for the US Open.
“When I think back to this time last year I had achieved nothing and what was waiting around the corner for me in the next six months was something I could never have imagined.
“It was great being back out here going through some of the shots from last October and getting some of the memories back.”
McDowell’s Wales Open win set up the greatest season of his life and after some struggles on the greens at Wentworth last week, he’s hoping to get the blade working this week.
He said: “I’m probably having a better season so far this year, so hopefully I can use this week as the same sort of catalyst as I did in 2010.
“I missed the cut at Wentworth, but it was very similar to the way I played at Augusta. I was third in the tee to green stats and missed the cut and it was the same last week.
“I just didn’t get to grips with the greens, they were new and a little crusty and I putted awful to be fair. I’m sure there’s going to be a bit of a sub-conscious mental barrier to cross over, here and at the US Open.
“My game is good and I’ve been very happy with the way I’ve struck the ball in the last three weeks.”
McDowell’s stunning Wales Open win 12 months ago signalled the start of a magical run that ended with a tally of four wins - incuding his first Major - and Ryder Cup glory.
The last of those wins was a play-off victory over Tiger Woods in his Chevron World Challenge that slightly dented the former world No 1’s comeback.
Recalling his weekend rounds of 64 and 63 in Wales last year, McDowell said: “Winning here last year was just huge for my confidence and the 36 holes I played on the weekend was probably still some of the best golf I’ve ever played in my life. I struck the ball unbelievable and played very, very solid.
“I remember saying in my post-tournament interview on the Sunday, I feel I’m playing well enough to have a very big summer and I walked away from here and two weeks later lifted the US Open trophy. This was a huge week in the grand scheme of things to what happened to me last season.”
As a former Cardiff resident McDowell feels like a local every time he tees it up in Wales and hopes he can use this week’s event as a springboard to another great summer.
Banking on great support, he said: “There’s no doubt for people in Wales the Ryder Cup was a bid deal for them and I’m still an honorary Welshman when I come back here because having lived here, I can still count on a bit of that home support.”
McDowell heads a six-man Irish challenge at the TwentyTen course where he is joined by US Open qualifier Shane Lowry, Michael Hoey, Darren Clarke, Damien McGrane and Challenge Tour regular Colm Moriarty who tees it up this week thanks to his top 10 finish in the Madeira Islands Open.