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McDowell set to prove he’s the Master

By Peter Hutcheon

Graeme McDowell reckons his two-day jaunt at the Tavistock Cup was perfect preparation for both Bay Hill this week and next month’s Masters.

The Ulsterman helped Lake Nona to victory over their local rivals Isleworth on their home turf earlier this week, contributing three points to the cause.

“My performance this week at the Tavistock Cup, on the extremely difficult course in Isleworth with some of the fastest greens we will play all year, was really encouraging,” he said.

“My form has been good the last few months, and I feel I'm close to getting a big result soon.”

McDowell made it into the field for this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational after making the most of his starts in America so far this season.

“Bay Hill is a great event, and I am delighted to playing here this week,” he said.

“I needed a big performance at Doral to stay within the top 50 and gain entry to Mr Palmer’s event, and I did just that.

“I had a poor weekend here last year, but finished second in 2005 and it's a course I like.

“There is a really strong field and I'm hoping to finish on a high before I go to Augusta to prepare for the Masters.”

Meanwhile, Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie believes Tiger Woods has made a “very shrewd” choice in returning at next month’s Masters.

Montgomerie, who is no stranger to heckling from American galleries, said: “He said that he's nervous to come back and that's the first time I've ever heard Tiger say those words.

“It's very shrewd what he's done to come back in the most controlled atmosphere possible.

“The Masters is a very controlled environment. The patrons are very knowledgeable and will respect him as the golfer that he is, and I think that there will be no issue at all.

“I think he'll get over his nerves on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and will be as determined as any

one has ever been on a golf course to prove that he's still the number one player in the world and, in my opinion, the best player ever to play the game.”

Asked about the reaction of the other players to Woods, and particularly those drawn to play alongside him, Montgomerie added: “You'd almost had to have asked for volunteers.

“There's a number of players that will be looking at that draw sheet and will be delighted if they are not playing with Tiger on this occasion.

“But in saying that, it is a very controlled environment. There are no cameras allowed within the ropes. You see nothing bar your own opponent and caddie, and your own caddie.

“I think it will be fine. Coming to a so-called normal PGA Tour event, it might be different.

“But I think he's been very wise in selecting the Masters for his return, and believe me, he wouldn't be playing if he didn't think he could win.

“Even in my much lesser state I took four months off at the back end of 1995 and came back and won my first tournament, the Dubai Desert Classic in 1996, and he knows how to win.

“And it will be interesting to see how the other players around him react when his name is on that leaderboard again. It will be very different to see his name up there than some others.

“He has that aura about him and it will be interesting to see if other players react differently now, or the same as they did.

“It promises to be an exciting time.”

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