| 3.6°C Belfast

Ambitious McDowell eyes return to world's top-20

 

Close

Major joy: Graeme McDowell with US Open trophy in 2010

Major joy: Graeme McDowell with US Open trophy in 2010

Getty Images

Major joy: Graeme McDowell with US Open trophy in 2010

He's not where he once was but he's not yet where he's intending to go either.

For those who thought Graeme McDowell's big European Tour win on Sunday meant it was destination reached in the 40-year-old's renaissance, the man himself offered a differing perspective.

G-Mac's Saudi International success catapulted him from 104th to 47th in the world rankings, inside the top-50 for the first time since 2015.

It's just 11 months since the 2010 US Open champion found himself outside the globe's top 260 golfers but he isn't planning to slow down his progress.

His eyes are fixed another 27 places up the list - at least - and a return to the world's top-20 golfers.

"It felt a long way ahead of me," he admitted of his ambitious target.

"I think I've sort of broken that top-50 barrier probably three, four, six months faster than I thought I could.

"I want another chance at a Major on the back nine on a Sunday. It's a lofty goal, and there are going to be a lot of steps between there and now, but this (win) really gives me the kick on I need."

It also means McDowell has now secured a top-25 finish in six of his last eight events. It's safe, at this stage, to say it's no flash in the pan.

"This is a weird win because I've kind of felt it coming," he explained.

"I felt like it was part of my journey back. I'm trying to look at the bigger picture where I need to keep cranking on and I need to have weeks like these."

It will be 10 years in June since McDowell lifted the US Open trophy.

When he fell out of the world's top-50 midway through the intervening decade, his return felt a pipe dream, that day at Pebble Beach seemingly destined to be the clear stand-out of his entire career.

But now? That's no longer necessarily the case.

"Kevin Kirk (new coach) said to me, 'There's no reason why the best golf in your career can't still be ahead of you'. I like that kind of idea, that focus," said the Rathmore man.

"It's been 10 years probably since I played the best golf of my life. I feel like I'm moving back in the right direction."

It's a finely-poised balance, playing good golf. The mechanics and the mindset must match, and that still, small voice can make or break it all.

"There's a lot of self-talk. It's about the quality of that talk," admitted McDowell.

"If I start to tell myself, 'Hey, this is a really lofty goal you have yourself, these guys are really good, you're old, you're not in really good shape, you're a bit fat and maybe not very good'; if that was the quality of my talk, I'm going to have a tough time getting there.

"But the things I've been saying to myself the last six months have been way better."

The attitude, the swing, the ability to get it done. It's all coming together, but there's a long way still to go.

Belfast Telegraph