Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

New year and new clubs but Graeme McDowell still red hot

Graeme McDowell

“Look at the Indian, not his arrows.” That was the message from a jubilant Graeme McDowell yesterday as he reflected on a season-opener which silenced all of the doubters.

The Portrush man is on the brink of the world's top four after a course-record 62 on Sunday hurtled him to within one shot of a play-off in Hawaii.

Jonathan Byrd may have been the eventual victor of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but it was McDowell's 11-under final round, the joint-lowest of his professional career, which had the game abuzz.

Particularly as he was playing with a new make of clubs.

There were plenty of raised eyebrows earlier this month when McDowell signed up with Srixon, having won the US Open when using Callaway last year.

The fear was, that after he had became one of the biggest names in the game, he had put his earning power above his striking power.

McDowell — who was last night crowned Sports Star of the Year at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Sports Awards — has already proved otherwise.

“It was great to come out and answer all of those questions,” said the 31-year-old.

“I realised it was going to be a difficult way to start the season with new equipment coming off the back of last year.

“So it was great to show people that all I've done is move from one great golf company to another great golf company. I said that I hoped 2010 was more about the Indian than the arrows.”

McDowell is now within just 0.09pts off displacing Phil Mickelson as the world No 4.

That will be the least of his immediate ambitions. Victory in next week's Abu Dhabi Championship could see him rival Tiger Woods for the No 2 spot behind Lee Westwood.

McDowell, who has made no secret that he wants to be number one in the world, has already posted an early warning that he means business in 2011.

His next appearance will be at the HSBC event in Abu Dhabi on January 23.

He'll return to America from February 23-27 for the Accenture match play and perhaps another head-to-head date with Woods.

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