McDowell and Power continue on upward curve
Graeme McDowell goes to pick his ball out of the hole after a birdie

Graeme McDowell goes to pick his ball out of the hole after a birdie

Graeme McDowell was thrilled to follow an opening 75 with rounds of 67, 70 and 67 to finish 14th on five-under-par in the Valspar Championship in Florida.

And like Seamus Power, who closed with a 70 to share 27th place on two-under par (earning $39,346), he's looking at the bigger picture and waiting for all aspects of his game to click.

"I am trying to keep my expectations in check," said McDowell, who failed to clinch the top-three finish he needed to qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play but feels he's close to turning his game around after falling out of the world's top 50 nearly two years ago.

"I know what I am capable of and I know where I want to be in the world from a golfing point of view."

Ranked 87th in the world, McDowell won't gain much ground in the rankings this week as he battles to qualify for the Masters by getting back into the world's top 50 or winning a PGA Tour event.

But like Power, he knows that he's got the game (and the putter) to win soon and earn his place at golf's top table.

Canada's Adam Hadwin did just that, closing with a level-par 71 and taking advantage of Patrick Cantlay's (68) 18th hole bogey to win his maiden title by one stroke on 14-under par.

McDowell has 13 worldwide wins to his name, including the 2010 US Open. And while he is set to turn 38 in July, he knows that he has the tools to win more big events if he can get his all round game back to where it was some four years ago.

"A 75 on Thursday was never going to work on any tour, never mind the PGA Tour," McDowell said of his awful start. "But it was nice to come back and make the cut and play as well as I did, especially today."

After birdies at the first, third and fifth, he dropped his only shot of the day at the 13th but recovered with back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th to pick up $110,250 for his week's work.

"The putter has been really good this year," said McDowell, who admits that family life and the arrival of children Vale Esme (2104) and  Wills Edson (2016) pushed golf onto the back burner for a while. 

"I feel like if I can give myself some looks at birdie, I can really make some putts at the minute. 

I just have to be patient and calm and let it happen.
— Graeme McDowell on his 2017 form

"I am super motivated right now. It has been a great couple of years off the golf course from a family point of view. But my form on course golf has suffered, so for the last eight months I have really been refocussed and rededicated."

With that plan in mind, he's not beating himself up over short term results but playing the long game and waiting for it all to come together. 

"I just have to be patient and calm and let it happen," he told Sky Sports' Sarah Stirk after his round. "It is always nice to post numbers like that to reinforce that you are on the right path. 

"I really hit some great shots today, and I am looking forward to taking it on to next week [at Bay Hill]. 

"This week was my attempt to get into the [WGC Dell Technologies] Match Play, which is going to come up short. I said to myself, I wasn't going to beat myself up if I didn't get into the Match Play or if I don't get into the Masters. 

"There are so many good events, so many big events around the world and I am trying to stay really patient with it. I will keep playing golf and keeping working hard. That was the other goal, and I have been doing that so far. 

Seamus Power

Seamus Power

"I will keep chugging along, and I am looking forward to Bay Hill next week. It's going to be a very poignant week as we remember Arnold and I am looking forward to being part of that."

McDowell is one of the tournament co-hosts for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in his adopted home town of Orlando, where Power will not get to tee it up.

The 30-year-old West Waterford rookie will make his next appearance in the Puerto Rico Open at Coco Beach in a fortnight after another solid week.

He might be disappointed not to have done better after opening with a 66 but he has made $241,309 so far this year and is ranked 112th in the FedEx Cup with four top-30 finishes and eight cuts made from 11 starts.

One of the top 30 for driving distance, he's also a great putter and ranked seventh on tour inside 10 feet. With power and putting prowess, it may only a matter of time before he has his day. Now inside the world's top 300 — he moved up 18 places to 299th on Sunday — as McDowell might say, he just has to let it happen.