McDowell ready to move on
Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell insists he’s ready to get on with the rest of his career after a sensational year as US Open champion.

The Ulsterman believes handing back the trophy has lifted a huge weight off his shoulders.

And after admitting that his game “hit a brick wall” a few months ago, he’s looking forward to breaking through to the other side and contending for major No 2 this week.

Looking to the future with confidence, McDowell said: “I spent the last six months reflecting on 2010.  I’m ready to sort of get on with the rest of my career now.  

“It’s tough to look forward when all everyone wants to talk about is the past.  I really felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders already, and I’m excited about the week.

“I feel less pressure already and I’m hoping it continues to Thursday. I really feel like I’m in a good frame of mind.”

McDowell has been on an interview merry-go-round since his incredible one-shot win at Pebble Beach 12 months ago.

Had he just won the US Open, he might have been able to slip under the radar but he went on to record an incredible 2010 campaign.

His US Open win was one of four individual triumphs but he became a world star when he claimed the winning point for Europe in the Ryder Cup.

He was on a massive high from June to the end of January this year and was even awarded an MBE.

He wouldn’t trade his dream year for anything but now that that he’s come full circle he couldn’t be happier to move on with his life and his ambitions.

Dismissing fears that he will destroy himself trying to repeat last year’s heroics, he said: “Can I ever top 2010?  I probably can’t top the way it felt to win my first major championship, to hole the winning putt at the Ryder Cup and be that 12th match and just the way that unfolded that day, to win two or three other times outside of that.  

“I probably can’t top that feeling but I can have a similar competitive year.”

The future is unclear but now that he’s ranked seventh in the world, he knows now that he has the game to stand up to the severest of pressure and win majors.

And while he’s suffered three major meltdowns this season, he reckons they happened because of an unrealistic “win or bust” attitude.

His run of disasters started when he opened with an 80 at Bay Hill and then continued in The Players at Sawgrass when he blew his chances of winning title with a closing 79.

He looked destined to retain the Saab Wales Open last month but shot 81 in the third round at Celtic Manor to blow his chances of victory.

Explaining his recent blips, he said: “The only thing I’ve come up with is that my focus has been way too much on winning.  My expectation level, I mean, I’m going out there with the only goal of winning the golf tournament.  

“That’s probably a little bit unrealistic because you can’t be setting  you can’t really be setting your goals that high.  So the last round of The Players when it started to get away from me, it wasn’t like I threw the towel in but subconsciously I felt the win getting away from me and I really lost that drive.  

“I’ve lost that drive to grind the top 10s and the top 5s out, the things that drive consistency.  

“The reason why Luke Donald has not been a prolific winner but he’s just a phenomenal golfer and he’s one of the best players in the world because of that, because he can grind out those top 5s, he can grind out the top 10s when he’s maybe not in a position to win the golf tournament.

“So I feel like The Players when it got away from me I went chasing it because all I wanted to do was win it.  

“At Wales when it got away from me, it was a tough day that Saturday and I had a freaky first seven or eight holes where I paid maximum penalty for some not terrible golf shots and that got away from me.

“Again, I went chasing it and the second that I couldn’t win the golf tournament subconsciously I lost that drive to dig in.”

McDowell couldnt keep up his magical run forever and now accepts that it was only a matter of time before his results tailed off.

But he’s regrouped in time and believes that he can still be a contender here on Sunay.

He said: “Sometimes a run of momentum and adrenaline sort of has to hit a brick wall, as I guess I hit my brick wall.  I’ve been trying to get over that wall ever since.

“At some point, those kind of runs, I guess, inevitably have to come to an end, especially if you’re playing as much golf as I was.”

“I’ve really got to reset my goals and realize that consistent golf is what it’s all about, and you don’t have to win every week to be a top player.

“I’ve just really got to look at my focus and make sure that I’m being driven in the right places, and you can’t expect to win every week.

“The second that the win gets away from you, you can’t really just go throwing it around everywhere.  I just need to get that little bit of focus back.”