Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

McDowell savours incredible year

Graeme McDowell

This would still have been the greatest year of Graeme McDowell's career if he had lost all his five games at Celtic Manor and Europe had been beaten 28-0.

But now he is a Ryder Cup hero as well as the US Open champion - and favourite to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December. Yet the 31-year-old Ulsterman, whose victory in the very last match gave Europe a thrilling 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory, has told how he battled not only American Hunter Mahan, but also negative thoughts down the stretch.

"I have never been that nervous before," he said. "It was the most difficult nine holes of golf of my life - it made the US Open back nine feel like playing with my dad at Royal Portrush."

He added: "I hoped I wasn't going to be needed. I was hoping my caddie would give me the nod (that the side had won).

"It was very flat for 12 or 13 holes, then all of a sudden it was obvious our match was going to count.

"I had a massive lot of emotions going through my head. I was really nervous on every shot.

"The second shot at 16 was the greatest second shot of my career and the putt on 16 (a downhill 20-footer that put him two up) was the greatest putt of my career.

"I imagined winning and losing in the same breath. That's just the way golf is - there are good times and bad times, great shots and bad shots. That is what makes this game so great."

Europe's captain Colin Montgomerie paid tribute to McDowell, saying: "Graeme was put there for a very good reason. He's full of confidence and that showed.

"That birdie on 16 was quite unbelievable."

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