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McDowell eyes Europe title

After a year in which he won his first major Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell still harbours hopes of being crowned Europe's number one.

But to do that he will have to topple current leader Martin Kaymer, who was also a maiden major victor this summer, and he has a chance to close the gap further this week in the Race to Dubai's penultimate event. McDowell, the US Open champion, makes his fourth successive tournament appearance as he contests the Hong Kong Open.

"All golfers have goals and, post-Pebble Beach (where he won his US Open title), my two main goals for the year were to play and win The Ryder Cup and then to win The Race to Dubai," said McDowell.

"I was lucky enough to get the first one done and the second one is the reason that I am playing five weeks in a row at the end of the season. I have always said I want to get to Dubai within touching distance of Martin and where a win in the tournament would mean I would win The Race to Dubai."

Having slipped up at the final hole of a rain-delayed Singapore Open on Sunday- which cost him £100,000 - the 31-year-old trails his Germany rival by £324,162.

Another good finish could reduce that deficit even further - Kaymer is having this week off - and leave the two Ryder Cup team-mates virtually neck-and-neck before they get to the Middle East for next week's season-ending and lucrative Dubai World Championship.

"Obviously a big week is required in Hong Kong to be as close to Martin as I can going there, considering the season he has had, so I'll be trying my hardest to do just that," McDowell added.

A year ago, McDowell's appearance at the inaugural Dubai World Championship did not really go to plan as he finished joint 30th in a field of 58 having failed to recover from an opening 76.

When he returns next week it will be as a major champion and recently Ryder Cup winner. Those are factors the Northern Irishman feels will work in his favour.

"I didn't drive the ball well at Jumeirah last year but I feel like I've made big steps in my golf game this year, especially my driving, so I'm looking forward to going to Dubai again and see how it sets up for this year," he said. "I feel really privileged to be in this position, going into the Dubai World Championship."

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