Graeme McDowell is desperate to feel the heat of battle in competition ahead of next month’s Ryder Cup.
The Ulsterman, who made a late adjustment to his schedule to play in the Austrian Open today, hasn’t been at the sharp end of a tournament since winning the US Open at Pebble Beach in June.
He has been quite open about struggling to cope with the demands of being a Major champion and the detrimental effect it has had on his game.
But he’s determined to put that right before taking on the Americans at Celtic Manor, scene of his Wales Open win just before that US Open triumph.
“Austria has always been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to and I seem to have always played well in this country,” he said.
“Hopefully this week will be no different.”
McDowell has not been seen at a tournament since his disappointing showing at the US PGA at Whistling Straits a month ago.
“The last four weeks I’ve averaged about 30 minutes of practice each day,” he said.
“It’s important to have balance and I needed a rest. You have to work very hard at other times but the last month has been about resting and getting my head refreshed.
“We play a lot of golf and this week I will be playing or practising seven to eight hours a day. It’s impossible to do that all the time.
“The last ten days I’ve been hitting some balls but now the hard work starts.
“From now until the end of the season I will be working very hard so it was important to recharge my batteries.”
The Portrush man admits it will be a tall order after such a long lay-off to be competitive straight away, but nevertheless says the work he has down in practice is starting to pay off.
“Obviously my game will be rusty, but like every tournament I enter, I am here to win,” he said.
“After this week, my next sample of competitive golf will be standing on the first tee at Celtic Manor at the Ryder Cup, so I am hoping that four decent rounds here will have me in good shape come of October 1.”