Graeme McDowell: Rejuvenated major winner sees path to the top again

Graeme McDowell
McDowell won his first European Tour title since 2014 in Saudi Arabia in February

World number 50 Graeme McDowell says winning another major feels achievable again having rediscovered some of his best form in recent months.

Northern Ireland's 2010 US Open champion, 40, claimed his first European Tour title since 2014 with victory at the Saudi International in February.

"I thought to myself 12 months ago that I want to be back at the top of the sport again - one last time for whatever length of time I can stay up there," McDowell said.

"[My form] really has given me that kick-on to where the top of the game becomes touchable again to me."

McDowell enjoyed a fine finish to 2019 and continued his resurgence this year with a fourth-placed finish in Hawaii before moving back into the world's top 50 with his triumph in Saudi Arabia.

The return to form comes after several disappointing years which saw McDowell, who represented Europe in four consecutive Ryder Cups between 2008 and 2014, drop out of the world's top 200 in 2018.

Graeme McDowell
It is nearly 10 years since McDowell won the US Open at Pebble Beach

"I think sometimes when you haven't been on the back nine on Sunday with the ultimate pressure on your shoulders, you think that you forget how to do it," he said.

"Having been up there a few times in the last year or so where you get the juices flowing, I think I remember how to do it.

"It's a case now of having the game to be there as often as I can.

"It would be nice to be a multiple champion, [not a] one-hit wonder."

Augusta appearance will not 'make or break' season

McDowell's current ranking would be enough to gain him an invitation to the first major of the year at Augusta in April, but the Portrush native needs a decent finish in one of his next three tournaments to make sure of his place.

While a first Masters appearance since 2016 is now a very real target, McDowell insists his long-term goals will not be waylaid by his performances in the next month.

Masters qualification not a game-changer - McDowell

"I would love to be at Augusta - it's my favourite course in the world," he said.

"But it's not going to make or break my schedule or my season. Augusta is not the end goal. That's an opportunity on a back nine on Sunday at a major championship.

"If it's not this year it'll be next year."

Ryder Cups 'the best experiences of my career'

Graeme McDowell
McDowell claimed the winning point for Europe at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor

After winning three straight Ryder Cups, McDowell's poor form saw him miss out on countryman Darren Clarke's European team in 2016, while he was a vice captain during Europe's win in Paris two years later.

"These last two Ryder Cups, I spent one on the couch and one with a vice-captain's radio on. I'm not sure which one was tougher," McDowell reflected.

"To be there that close in France watching the guys was tough but also a lot of fun.

"Being at home watching it on TV is no fun when you think that you're good enough to be there."

McDowell's fellow Irish major winner Padraig Harrington will captain Europe later this year as they seek to retain the cup at Whistling Straights in Wisconsin.

"I want to be there, I want to be part of it," McDowell said.

"I think he is going to be a fantastic captain and I would really love to be there as one of the players and put that European shirt on at the first tee.

McDowell and Harrington
McDowell is hoping to force his way on to Harrington's Ryder Cup team

"The four Ryder Cups are the best experiences of my career so far.

"It felt a long way off 24 months ago. Even 12 months ago it felt an awfully long way away.

"It feels more doable now. I've got a lot of work between now and September to be on the team but I've got the schedule in front of me and I've got the desire and the drive."

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