Graeme McDowell taking fight to Martin Kaymer
Major champions Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen stood shoulder to shoulder in the desert sun yesterday as the European Tour broke out the best silverware in the run-up to this week's Dubai World Championship.
Yet US Open hero McDowell is relishing the prospect of looking PGA Champion Kaymer straight in the eye when they meet on the first tee at the Earth Course tomorrow for the first round of their high noon showdown for the 2010 Race to Dubai title.
McDowell plays his fifth tournament on the trot this week, but he flatly dismissed any suggestion that victory at Valderrama, followed by two close calls at Singapore and Hong Kong in the past fortnight, might have drained his batteries.
As Europe's match-clincher proved at the climax to September's Ryder Cup, nobody enjoys going mano-a-mano more than McDowell.
The Portrush rottweiler believes the adrenaline rush stirred by this week's confrontation with Race to Dubai leader Kaymer (25) will carry him all the way through to Sunday.
The greatest year of his golfing career has boiled down to a 72-hole battle for Europe's biggest prize and McDowell insists: “This is exactly what I needed.
“This is why this week is going to work for me — because any tiredness I may have in my body isn't going to come out until this is all over.
“The adrenaline will be pumping. It'll be game on and I'll be up for it.”
McDowell's fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy handed Race to Dubai rival Lee Westwood a significant psychological boost after day one of last year's end-of-season spectacular by admitting it probably was better not to be paired with the Englishman on the second day.
In contrast, McDowell has no fear that playing with Kaymer might distract the two of them from the primary task, namely winning the tournament. “It's going to be good to look Martin in the eye on the first tee,” he explained with a smile which said it all
McDowell, Kaymer and British Open winner Oosthuizen were both presented with honorary life membership of the European Tour yesterday in recognition of their heroics at this year's Majors; and the German returned the compliment by announcing that he'd decided against taking out US PGA Tour membership in 2011.
“I'll stick with the European Tour,” said Kaymer.
After McIlroy's recent decision to relinquish his US card in 2011, Kaymer's news is another fillip for European golf, though Oosthuizen and McDowell have opted to take out membership of the PGA Tour next year.