McDowell gunning for green light at Augusta

Augusta National might not suit Graeme McDowell but he’s not throwing in the towel as he looks ahead to the Masters. Picture: Fran Caffrey / www.golffile.ieGraeme McDowell has decided that controlled aggression is the best route to green jacket glory at Augusta National next week.

The world No 17 has improved his short game in leaps and bounds over the past 12 months and believes he’s slowly learning how to take a course he once found unplayable

McDowell said: “Augusta used to be a red light for me but now it’s definitely amber with a promise of green.

“I have to be more aggressive at times. I probably played Augusta a little to conservatively in the past and I need to be more aggressive and trust the short game and putting, focus on getting up and down rather than worrying how I can take double bogey out of the equation.”

Twelve months ago his short game let him down as he opened with a 75 and angrily declared: “This golf course gets me. It takes me 12 months to forget how much I dislike this golf course.

“I said I was coming here with an open mind this week and my mind closed up after about four holes.”

But as the course dried out he slowly but surely he got to grips with it and clinched a career-best share of 12th behind winner Bubba Watson.

A closing 68, the lowest round of his 14 competitive rounds at Augusta, gave him massive hope.

“I’m looking forward to many more Augustas, many more Masters,” he said as he headed down Magnolia Lane. “I’d love to put that green jacket on my back some day.”

He left know that he had to improve his chipping and bunker play to be able to compete with the big-hitting right to left hitters like Rory McIlroy.

But he’s also learned that he must become less defensive around the greens.

As he completed his preparations for the first major of the season, McDowell said: “My short game is an area where I have tried to get better and better. You need a great short game and you need to be a great putter to win at Augusta.

“You need a great short game because you need to free up from the fairway. You can’t be trying to steer it around. You can’t be worrying that if you miss you are going to have a hard time getting it up and down.

“That’s been my problem in the past. Last year I was pretty down after the first round because I knew how negatively I had thought around the greens as opposed to how I had actually played them.

“That’s what frustrated me most last year. I think I learnt a lot from that first round.”