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Irish Open 2015: Northern Ireland's 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell player profile

By Peter Hutcheon

Published 26/05/2015

VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 22: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland hits his 2nd on the 15th hole during day 2 of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on May 22, 2015 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 22: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland hits his 2nd on the 15th hole during day 2 of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on May 22, 2015 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

It is strange to think that in any other era Graeme McDowell would probably be the pre-eminent Ulster sportsman of his generation.

He’s a man with a major, a US Open, to his name, numerous victories around the world and has become the absolute bedrock of the European Ryder Cup team.

But you will never hear him complain that countrymen Rory McIlroy or Darren Clarke have stolen his thunder. Far from it, he’s more than happy to play his part in Northern Ireland’s rise to become the unofficial golfing capital of the world.

That has seen the Irish Open venture first to his home town of Portrush – with the holy grail of the Open Championship to follow – and now the tournament being staged at Royal County Down for the first time.

It is no coincidence that big time golf has returned with such a vengeance now that the place boasts three major winners.

McDowell has the uncanny ability to pop up with a victory when he most needs one and it is that ability which has made him an ever present in the top 50 of the world rankings for so long now.

That, in turn, guarantees him entry into the the majors and World Golf Championships and helps keep his career ticking over.

Once upon a time players would have been more than content to end their careers with just the one major to his name, but McDowell set out to his stall to become a multiple major winner no sooner had he won that US Open at Pebble Beach in 2010.

And, in truth, he could have done so by now, missing chances at the same event two years later and then the Open Championship a couple of months after that.

The number 35 looms large for McDowell at the moment – it is both his age and his world ranking.

CORK, IRELAND - JUNE 22: Mikko Ilonen of Finland celebrates with the winners trophy after the final round of the Irish Open at the Fota Island Resort on June 22, 2014 in Cork, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
CORK, IRELAND - JUNE 22: Mikko Ilonen of Finland celebrates with the winners trophy after the final round of the Irish Open at the Fota Island Resort on June 22, 2014 in Cork, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - JUNE 30: Paul Casey of England celebrates his eagle putt on the 18th green during the final round of the Irish Open at Carton House Golf Club on June 30, 2013 in Maynooth, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 01: Jamie Donaldson of Wales hugs his caddie Craig Connelly of Scotland after he had holed a birdie putt at the 18th hole to secure his first European Tour win during the final round of the 2012 Irish Open held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 1, 2012 in Portrush, Northern Ireland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
KILLARNEY, IRELAND - JULY 31: Simon Dyson of England kisses the trophy after winning the Discover Ireland Irish Open held at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club on July 31, 2011 in Killarney, Ireland. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
KILLARNEY, IRELAND - AUGUST 01: Ross Fisher of England poses with the trophy and his wife Jo and daughter Eve after victory during the final round of the 3 Irish Open at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club on August 1, 2010 in Killarney, Ireland. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
BALTRAY, IRELAND - MAY 17: Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates after winning on the third play-off hole during the final round of The 3 Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club on May 17, 2009 in Baltray, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LIMERICK, IRELAND - MAY 18: Richard Finch of England celebrates the final round of the Irish Open at Adare Manor on May 18, 2008 in Limerick, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LIMERICK, IRELAND - MAY 20: Padraig Harrington of Ireland with son Patrick and wife Caroline on the 18th green after the final round of the Irish Open on May 20, 2007 at the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort in Limerick, Ireland (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
KILDARE, IRELAND - MAY 22: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark celebrates on the 18th green after winning the Nissan Irish Open on The Montgomerie Course at Carton House Golf Club on May 22, 2006 in Kildare, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - MAY 22: Stephen Dodd of Wales tees off on the 16th hole during the final round of the Nissan Irish Open on The Montgomerie Course at Carton House Golf Club on May 22, 2005 in Maynooth, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
BALTRAY, IRELAND - JULY 25: Brett Rumford of Australia celebrates on the 18th green after winning the Nissan Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club on July 25, 2004 in Baltray, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 27: Michael Campbell of New Zealand celebrates his play-off victory over Thomas Bjorn and Peter Hedblom at the Nissan Irish Open on July 27, 2003 at Portmarnock Golf Club in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
CORK, IRELAND - JUNE 30: Soren Hansen of Denmark and Padraic Liston of Murphys enjoy a couple of pints after the final round of the Murphy's Irish Open played at Fota Island Golf Club, Cork, on June 30, 2002. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
1 Jul 2001: Colin Montgomerie of Scotland on the 1st hole during his final round at the Murphys Irish Open at Fota Island Golf Club, Cork, Ireland. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Munday/ALLSPORT
1 Jul 2000: Patrik Sjoland of Sweden hits a birdie during the Final Round of the Murphy's Irish Open at Ballybunion Golf Club, Ireland. Mandatory Credit: Michael Cooper /Allsport
4 Jul 1999: Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrates on the 12th hole after holing a birdie during the 1999 Murphy's Irish Open played in Dublin, Ireland. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Redington /Allsport
5 Jul 1998: David Carter of England celebrates after the play-off during the Murphy's Irish Open at Druids Glen Golf Club in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Carter won the event. \ Mandatory Credit: Andrew Redington/Allsport
DUBLIN - JULY 5: Colin Montgomerie Scotland in action during the 1997 Murphy's Irish Open held on July 5, 1997 at the Druids Glen GC in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
WICKLOW,IRELAND- JULY 3: Colin Montgomerie of Scotland walks on water as he approaches the 17th green during the Pro-Am in the Murph's Irish Open at the Druid's Glen Golf Clun on July 3, 1996 in North County Wicklow, Ireland. ( Photo by: David Cannon/Getty Images)
30 JUN 1995: Sam Torrance shows his pleasure after playing his second shot to the 18th close to the hole on his first day of the Irish Open at Mount Juliet. Mandatory Credit: Steve Munday/ALLSPORT
3 JUL 1994: BERNHARD LANGER OF GERMANY WITH A SHOT DURING THE 1994 IRISH OPEN GOLF TOURNAMENT, WHICH LANGER WON, AT THE MOUNT JULIET GOLF COURSE IN KILKENNY, IRELAND. Mandatory Credit: Steve Munday/ALLSPORT
KILKENNY, IRELAND - JULY 04: Nick Faldo of England with the trophy after his win in the 1993 Carrols Irish Open at Mount Juliet on July 4, 1993 in Kilkenny, Ireland. Faldo also came out ion top in the '91 & '92 Irish Open tournament. (Photo by Stephen Munday/Getty Images)
Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain triumphed at the Portmuck Irish Open in 1990. (Photo by Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
British golfer Ian Woosnam won the Irish Open in 1989. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
British golfer Ian Woosnam won the Irish Open in 1988. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 1987: Bernhard Langer of Germany plays in the 1987 US Open golf tournament from June 18-21, 1987 held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros competing in the Irish Open at the Royal Dublin Golf Club, Dublin, Ireland, 1986. Ballesteros won the tournament. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Getty Images)
Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros receiving the trophy after winning the Irish Open at the Royal Dublin Golf Club, Dublin, Ireland, 1985. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The former suggests there is plenty of gas left in the tank at the top end of the game; the latter that he could very well be doing with another victory at some point this season to preserve his place at the top table.

“I feel like I have been at a crossroads this year,” he said a little earlier in the season.

“I am trying to get myself back to the player I was and the way I thought rather than being this guy who is trying to be perfect and has less patience and gets frustrated and angered quicker than he ever did.

“I am trying to take a step back and realise that you are supposed to be happy when you get to this point.”

The thing abut McDowell is that his game is so uncomplicated that there is little to go wrong. And then when everything really clicks as it did at the Volvo World Matchplay two years ago in Bulgaria, there are few who can live with him.

He is a strong bet to win his national title one day and made a pretty good fist of it last year in finishing fifth at Cork’s Fota Island. His links knowledge must make him a strong contender at Royal County Down if he gets off to a decent start.

It will have been a huge relief to McDowell that Rory McIlroy’s legal battle with former sports agency Horizon never saw the inside of the courtroom as he had been dragged unwittingly into the dispute.

That had to put a strain on his relationship with the world number one, though their bond was so strong the controversy never threatened their friendship.

It has been a quiet start to the year for McDowell with just one top ten finish, the Dubai Desert Classic where he finished ninth.

Since then he has missed the cut at two PGA events in America, finished tied for 52nd in the Masters and went out of the World Matchplay in San Francisco after the group stage.

He faces a huge couple of months as he looks to arrest his slide in the world rankings with the US Open coming up next month and the Open Championship at St Andrews in July.

“I feel more motivated right now than I have in a long time,” he says.

“I have a great image in my head of winning tournaments and having my wife and kids waiting for me on the 18th green.

“That is one of the many things that is driving me on the range these days. We always ask ourselves if we are continuing to get better.

“I feel like I have more tools to do the job than I had a few years ago.

“I feel like I’m a smarter, more complete player.

“I know I have always had to work harder than the next guy.”

 

Facts

Age: 36

Location: Grew up in Portrush, lives in Florida

Biggest achievements: US Open 2010, Ryder Cup wins 2008, 2012, 2014

Best finish in an Irish Open: Joint 6th 2014)

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