Change of priorities paid off for Graeme McDowell in Mexico

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell will look to claim back-to-back titles for the second time in his career this week, an achievement which will be almost as memorable as his first winning double.

McDowell followed his win in the Wales Open in 2010 with victory in the US Open at Pebble Beach, also returning to Celtic Manor later that year to hole the winning putt in the Ryder Cup.

And although the OHL Classic and RSM Classic are not quite on the same level as a major championship, they could prove equally significant at this stage of McDowell’s career.

The 36-year-old started last week ranked 85th in the world, a drop of 70 places from the start of the year, and was only playing in Mexico after failing to qualify for the final three events of the European Tour season.

However, his play-off victory over Scotland’s Russell Knox not only lifted McDowell to 62nd in the rankings, but secured his place in the Masters and US PGA Championship next year and extended his PGA Tour membership through to the end of 2018.

“The game is in good shape. Aside from a few bad drives last week in Mexico I was very happy with how I played,” said Graeme yesterday ahead of today’s opening round at Sea Island.

“I’m feeling really good. I feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders a little bit with that performance last week. I feel like it takes a lot of pressure off the things that I have been trying to achieve and frees me up a little bit.

“It ticked a lot of boxes for me last week. Obviously getting back in the winner’s circle and everything that goes with it, the exemptions .”

Graeme admitted in the wake of last week’s victory that his poor 12 month of form had left him wondering if he could still compete at the top level. He went further yesterday explaining that he feared for his job on the PGA Tour.

He added; The way I have played this year I talked a lot about how I switched my priorities back to basics, back to simple competing as often as possible, trying to get myself on leaderboards and making sure that I was sitting here next year with somewhere to play.

“If I continued to play badly my job was in jeopardy. When it came down to it, if I was going to have a job, I wanted that job to be here in America because the financials are very obvious.

“When you boil it down to brass tacks, I want to be employed on the best tour in the world.”