Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

McDowell back in business after celebrating US Open win

JP McManus (right) holds the US Open trophy after presenting Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland (left) with a special trophy to mark his US Open victory after the first round of The JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am event at the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort on July 5, 2010 in Limerick

US Open winner Graeme McDowell last night said he was concentrating on golf again after a two-week blow-out celebrating his big victory.

On his return to action at the JP McManus Pro-Am at Limerick's Adare Castle , the 30-year-old admitted doing little other than partying since securing his first major championship.

Proudly sitting next to the US Open trophy, he joked it had already been involved in a few scrapes.

“There's been a few worrying moments,” McDowell said. “It's been in a few bars and restaurants in the small hours of the morning, but I guess I always comfort myself with the fact that it has been to some parties over the years.

“I'd say she could tell a few good stories at this stage.”

McDowell said he had not really practiced during the last two weeks, bar a game with fellow top Northern Ireland professional Rory McIlroy at Royal County Down and a game with his father and brother at his home club in Rathmore.

He said he was taking time out to enjoy a few pints of Guinness and a few glasses of wine as he acclimatised to being “less anonymous” than he used to be.

But he insisted his “business head” was now firmly screwed on as he prepared for this week's Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and then the Open at St Andrews.

“It honestly feels like two months ago when I holed that winning putt at Pebble Beach,” he said. “You've got to enjoy it, but at some point you've got to get the business head back on. That process began this morning.”

McDowell was part of star studded field that played in yesterday’s Pro-Am. Tiger Woods was the main attraction for fans playing alongside celebrities such as Samuel L Jackson, Martin O’Neill, Westlife, Michael Douglas, Tony McCoy, Hugh Grant and Harry Redknapp.

Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington has described his position in the race for Ryder Cup places as precarious.

Harrington is three places and 36 points (the total likely to be collected by the winner of the upcoming ‘3' Irish Open) outside the four automatic spots available at the Ryder Cup in the world ranking category and €110,000 behind ninth-placed Luke Donald in the European Tour points list.

That might not seem a lot with €28m-plus prize money and a plethora of ranking points available in the eight counting events before the Ryder Cup race closes at Gleneagles on August 29.

Yet competition is so hot. Justin Rose is still two places outside automatic qualification in the world points list, despite two sensational victories and a second-place finish in his last three outings on the US PGA Tour.

Harrington, who will play four of those eight qualifying events — at St Andrews, Killarney, the Bridgestone and the US PGA — conceded that he'll go to the Johnny Walker Championship at Gleneagles if need be to make the team, though it clashes with The Barclays, first of the FedEx Cup play-offs in the US.

“I do need a couple of performances in those four or five events,” he said. “It's a precarious position because so many good players aren't in the team.”

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