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'Get some mojo going': Graeme McDowell in bullish mood after getting back into world's top 100 with strong finish at Sony Open

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell is optimistic that the new decade could mean new success after tying for fourth at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

The 40-year-old equalled the round of the week with a six under par Sunday 64, featuring five consecutive birdies to close out the front nine, to get within two shots of eventual winner Cameron Smith.

The result was enough to haul McDowell 20 places up the world rankings and into the top 100 for the first time since August.

It was his second highest finish in a PGA Tour event since 2015, behind only his victory in the Dominican Republic last year, and means he has now finished in the top 25 in five of his last six events, a withdrawal at November's ZOZO Championship the only blip.

It's little wonder, then, that the Portrush man is optimistic about the season ahead.

"I've got a lot of ambitions this year, and it's important to kind of get some momentum, get some mojo going early in the year," he said.

"I'm pretty bullish about the way I'm playing. I like the direction I'm moving with a lot of things, and nice to have a big weekend and punch a nice position as I head into the rest of the season."

Among the reasons for McDowell's bright start to 2020 is the recent appointment of Patrick Reed's coach Kevin Kirk. Having also worked with Jhonattan Vegas and LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson, Kirk is known for his use of statistics, as well as deputising as Reed's caddy during the President's Cup when regular bagman Kessler Karain had an altercation with a fan.

"He's really got my technique dialled back in again and got my head dialled back in again, which is most important," McDowell said. "He's got me practicing the right way and thinking the right way.

"So I'm excited just where he's got me. I'm just excited with the schedule ahead really. I'm in my forties now. I'm trying to view this as really trying to enjoy what I'm doing out here.

"I know it's not going to be around forever. It's important to work hard, prepare hard, and just go out there and try and relax and enjoy myself as much as possible."

McDowell began the week slowly in Hawaii, one over par after his opening round. However, level par going into the weekend, he continued his steady progress with a three under Saturday 67 before his six under final round.

"I had a look at the leaderboard," he admitted, speaking of his mindset after those five birdies on the run.

"I knew where I stood, but I also knew that conditions were a little easier and that scoring was going to be pretty low.
Three-putt on 11 really derailed me a little bit. I had it going. I had 20 feet on 10 for six in a row; missed it.

"I kind of tugged my tee shot into 11, but it was a straightforward two-putt and left it a little short and hit a bad second putt.

"I just couldn't find those extra couple birdies down the stretch. Like I say, very content with what I'm doing and the way I'm playing, and looking forward to the rest of the season."

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