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Wall Street Journal questions why 'no-name' Graeme McDowell is at big tournaments

By Peter Hutcheon

If the renowned Wall Street Journal had its way, Tiger Woods would win two Majors a year and Graeme McDowell’s amazing US Open triumph would never have happened.

In arguing that the fields for golf tournaments are too big, Journal reporter Matthew Flutterman noted that McDowell’s US Open win and Louis Oosthuizen’s triumph at St Andrew’s wouldn't make any headlines outside of golf.

“Despite the obvious nature of the problem, nobody seems to be asking: Why are these no-names being invited to the party in the first place?” he wrote.

Likewise Martin Kaymer’s win on Sunday at Whistling Straits but his and McDowell’s potential for success has been evident far beyond these shores for quite some time.

McDowell was, after all, Collegiate Golfer of the Year in the US, a title held before him by that other no-name, Tiger Woods.

He underlined that potential by winning in just his fourth start as a professional in 2002.

Undoubtedly one of the stars in defeat in the last Ryder Cup, this year he’s on course to be crowned Europe’s top golfer.

And he’s been a permanent fixture in the world’s top 50 for much of his career — the top 50, that is, who are automatically in the field for all four Majors.

One wonders, how many players the Wall Street Journal wants to trim from the field — just a play-off between Woods and Phil Mickelson, perhaps.

McDowell has no intention of being one of the game’s one-hit wonders, and the history of golf is littered with them.

Back after ditching Butch Harmon as his coach, Woods went through a serious dip in form around 2003 when a series of unheralded players seized their chance.

Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton were Open champions; Shaun Micheel won the US PGA. None of them have exactly gone on to set the world on fire.

Perhaps they weren’t branded no-names because, well, the other thing they have in common is they are all American.

Part of the beauty of the Open — here and in the US — is that they are just that, open to everyone to enter if your handicap is low enough and some 2,500 around the world do every year.

Everyone knows that television ratings go down when Woods doesn’t play but that doesn’t mean the entire sport should revolve around one man, especially one whose appeal has been devalued so spectacularly of late.

To dub a player like McDowell a no-name is to misunderstand the nature of the sport.

Either Manchester United or Chelsea will win the Premier League this season. They invariably do.

In contrast, the climax to the US PGA on Sunday, with a host of the game’s brightest young stars battling it out for the prize, was just absolutely compelling.

The manner in which McDowell held his nerve to win at Pebble Beach was one of the most enthralling finishes of the year. And if the American public had never heard of him before that march to victory down the famous 18th, they have no-one but themselves to blame.

You only have to hear the boy from the North Antrim coast speak these days to know how much time he has spent in the States over the years.

He played on the America Tour for years, but returning to Europe has proved to be his salvation.

He reinvented himself as a golfer, dedicated to winning the game’s biggest prizes.

His story should be an inspiration to all — not something to be derided as somehow bringing the game into disrepute.

Belfast Telegraph


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