Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Open Championship: My best days are ahead of me, says McDowell

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland hits a shot during practice for the 139th Open Championship on the Old Course, St Andrews on July 13, 2010
Tiger Woods
Rory McIlroy addresses the media during practice for the 139th Open Championship on the Old Course, St Andrews on July 13, 2010

US Open champion Graeme McDowell will seek advice from the likes of Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els to avoid the possible pitfalls of becoming golf's latest major champion.

McDowell won the US Open at Pebble Beach last month, holding off Els, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in the final round to become the first European winner of the title since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

The 30-year-oldPortrush man admits he spent most of the next three weeks celebrating before returning to action at the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, but insists he is well aware of the dangers of his new status.

“In the short term there's not much I can do about it except try and play my own game,” said McDowell.

“How I deal with it in the long term boils down to decisions that I make, my schedule, big decisions like that. I'm very aware of the pitfalls, complacency, expectation levels, trying to change my game now that I'm a major champion; there's all kinds of mistakes that guys have made in the past.

“I know plenty of the guys well enough, Ernie and Padraig and guys like that, to be able to seek them out in the next few months to have some dinner with them and chat with them and understand how they have dealt with it in the past.

“I've got a great team of people working with me and I believe they'll not let me make the mistakes that will drag me down.

“I'm a 30-year-old guy, 31 in a couple of weeks' time, I feel like I have my best days ahead of me. I'll be making sure I don't fall into any of the traps.

“It's difficult to put Pebble Beach behind me, and I don't want to put it behind me because I'm enjoying every second of it.2

McDowell is one of four Northern Irish golfers in the field this week, alongside Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Gareth Maybin.

McIlroy has missed the cut in the last two majors and is 13 over par for the only two Opens he has played so far, but is still rated second favourite by the bookmakers behind Tiger Woods.

“Rory is a very experienced young man for a 21-year-old,” McDowell added.

“He's been on the big stage before, I don't think there's any risk he'll get overexcited. I really think Rory has a great chance this week. I think he loves this golf course, he's got a pretty mature head on young shoulders and he's got the game to do it.”

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