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McDowell predicts clash to remember

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Graeme McDowell defends his Volvo World Match Play title this week

Graeme McDowell defends his Volvo World Match Play title this week

Graeme McDowell defends his Volvo World Match Play title this week

Graeme McDowell believes the continuing fallout from Europe's Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles will ensure a "fairly epic" contest in two years' time.

McDowell thinks Phil Mickelson broke an "unwritten rule" by criticising captain Tom Watson in public after the United States suffered their third straight defeat - and eighth in the last 10 contests - last month.

Mickelson's comments in the US team's press conference - with Watson sat just a few feet away - have prompted the PGA of America to announce an 11-strong task-force to look into all aspects of the Ryder Cup, including how they select captains, the qualifying system and when wild cards should be picked.

And although the one man with experience of captaining a winning side this century, 2008 skipper Paul Azinger, has turned down the chance to participate, McDowell feels everything points to an event not to be missed at Hazeltine in 2016.

"I think there's positive and negative connotations there," said McDowell ahead of his defence of the Volvo World Match Play Championship at The London Club. "I think the negative being that maybe it takes too much emphasis off the European victory and a little bit more on the US failure.

"And I think the positive being their renewed effort to win the Ryder Cup, and that can only be very, very good for the tournament. It just means two years' time is going to be fairly epic. I want to be there for sure."

McDowell played as many times at Gleneagles as Mickelson - who was left out of a full day's play for the first time in 10 appearances - but insisted he would not have criticised European captain Paul McGinley if his plan had not worked out.

"There's kind of an unwritten rule, you don't call your captain out at a Ryder Cup. Win, lose or draw, you just don't," added McDowell, who won both foursomes matches alongside Victor Dubuisson and then came back from three down to beat Jordan Spieth in the first singles on Sunday.

"I see the negative connotations to it but I see the positive side that they will have to really have an in‑depth look at what they are doing wrong and try to bring together a recipe that connects the PGA of America and the PGA Tour players.

"When we come back we play for the European Tour, whereas the Americans they need to have something that can sort of mould them all together that week I suppose. Two years' time will be a telling one. If we were to win that, then that could be interesting. But I think they will be seriously up for it."

McDowell is one of six Ryder Cup players in the field for the 50th anniversary edition of the Volvo World Match Play, with European team-mates Dubuisson, Stephen Gallacher, Henrik Stenson and Jamie Donaldson joined by American Patrick Reed.

Reed won three and a half points from four matches on his debut and insisted the result came down to the players, not the captains.

"Tom Watson was my first captain and I really enjoyed what he did," said Reed, who has been drawn in the same group as Donaldson, England's Paul Casey and Sweden's Jonas Blixt. "And at the end of the day it comes down to us and how we play.

"To me, it doesn't matter who the captain is. Doesn't matter where we are or who is on our team or anything like that. Whoever it is I'm going to play my heart out for because not only am I playing for myself, but I'm playing for my country and the other 11 guys that are standing next to me."

Reed was unbeaten in three matches with fellow rookie Jordan Spieth at Gleneagles and then beat world number five Stenson in a singles match which saw him whipping up US supporters and signalling to European ones to keep quiet.

The 24-year-old, already famous for labelling himself one of the top five players in the world after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March, revealed he had received 40 emails from European fans when he got home, all of them supportive of his behaviour.

"They absolutely loved it," he added. "That's the one week where you can go back and forth with the crowds, you're giving them something to react on. They are going to give you some to react on. I t's just a bunch of fun and respectful play back and forth.

"There will definitely be emotion and passion out there (this week). It's just a passion that I have for the game of golf and in match play there's always that little extra killer instinct that I have due to the fact that I know where I'm at at all times because the guy I'm playing is next to me.

"Am I going to get as rowdy as I did at the Ryder Cup? Probably not. But playing great golf always gets me excited no matter what."

McDowell added that he first heard "murmurs" of discontent in the American team when Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were left out on Saturday and also gave his view on Watson's demeanour on the course.

"He seemed a little disconnected and aloof on the golf course when I did see him," McDowell said of the 65-year-old five-time Open champion. "He didn't seem to be engaging with the players and seemed a little distant.

"That's just my observation. Whether that's true or false, I have no idea. I'm just talking about the four or five times that I happened to see him or talk to him during the matches."