McDowell to skip Wentworth; more Ryder Cup pressure

Graeme McDowell braves the elements at Wentworth in 2013. Picture Stuart Adams

Graeme McDowell has withdrawn from next week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth because he wants to spend time with his wife Kristen who is expecting their first child.

The 2010 US Open champion will miss the European Tour’s flagship event for the first time in 12 years, putting him under more pressure to perform in the majors and seal his place in Paul McGinley's European Ryder Cup team.

“I very much appreciated Graeme taking the time to phone me personally to tell me he wouldn’t be at Wentworth,” European Tour chief executive George O’Grady said today.

“But the fact that he wants to spend time with Kristen, who will not be able to travel for the next three months, is entirely understandable.”

Wentworth has never been a happy hunting ground for the Florida-based McDowell who has missed the cut at the PGA Championship for the last three years and has never finished higher than 13th.

The Portrush man is the only member of the triumphant Ryder Cup team who will be absent next week. And he has work to do to make the side, having slipped further down the qualifying tables following his share of 62nd in the Players Championship last weekend.

He indicated there that he is giving serious consideration to skipping the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron in August having struggled to perform there in the past. Of course, he's hoping he will have his Ryder Cup place sewn up by then but if he's still outside the team, he may have no other choice other than a trip to Ohio. 

Skipper McGinley would prefer not to have to use a pick on McDowell, who has qualified automatically for the last three sides.

As for Wentworth, the other 11 members of the Ryder Cup side that won at Medinah all feature, as will 2012 captain Jose Maria Olazabal, defending champion Matteo Manassero of Italy, four-times major winner Ernie Els and 2011 US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

Ireland will have 11 players in the BMW PGA field with Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Pádraig Harrington, Shane Lowry, Michael Hoey, Simon Thornton and PGA Playoffs qualifier Damian Mooney joined by Damien McGrane, Gareth Maybin, Peter Lawrie and Paul McGinley.