GRAEME McDowell means business this week.
The Portrush native is determined to perform well in front of his home fans and is wary of getting swept up by Irish Open fever.
Yesterday organisers confirmed all four days of the 2012 event as sell-outs.
The clamour for tickets has been overwhelming, with Northern Irish fans hoping for a homegrown winner.
“I have to get on the right side emotionally this week,” McDowell said.
“I’ve got to get focused and I’ve got to get the business edge from the word go because if I don’t, it would be very easy just to enjoy the craic.
“There is always a sense of pressure and a sense of expectation at the Irish Open. We joke about it being the fifth major, but any Irish player would be very proud to have the Irish Open on his CV.
“To win in front of home fans is a very special thing. It’s just kind of exaggerated even more this week to be in my hometown on a golf course that I’ve grown up on and I feel like I know fairly well.
“There is added pressure. That’s why I’m a bit motivated to try and get out of the gates over the next couple of days and get into contention early this week.
“It would be very easy to just kind of get lost in the whole emotion of it all and just to kind of enjoy it, as opposed to what I want to do which is enjoy, yes, but enjoy the business end of things on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.”
McDowell is hopeful his recent US Open display – he finished tied second behind Webb Simpson – can provide a platform for a successful summer. He would love nothing more than to kick-start proceedings with a win this week.
“I would put it [Irish Open] up there with the WGC or the Players Championship or Wentworth. These are great, huge events with lots of money, but it’s about titles and winning in front of your home fans,” he added.
“Winning has its financial repercussions, but as a player, a win is emotional and something you’ll remember and you enjoy and celebrate. To win there this weekend, there will be a pretty kick-ass party somewhere in town Sunday night.
“It would be one of the most special moments of my career, right up there with winning at Pebble and the putt at Celtic Manor. It will be buzzing on Sunday afternoon if an Irishman had a chance to win here and it will be a lot of fun.
“It means a lot; pride, and emotion, and like I say, winning in front of family and friends.”