Graeme McDowell has revealed he entertained “crazy” thoughts about finding a different profession as he struggled for form and motivation following the birth of his first child.
McDowell’s victory in the 2010 US Open was the first of four wins in the last five years by European players, with fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup team-mates Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer following in his footsteps.
The 35-year-old also finished second at Olympic Club in 2012 and won three times around the world in 2013, but has recorded just one top-10 finish on the European Tour in 2015.
“I’ve been wrestling a little bit with my level of motivation the last 12 months with getting married and having a baby and all the exciting things in my life happening,” McDowell, whose daughter Vale was born in August 2014, said ahead of this week’s US Open at Chambers Bay.
“I haven’t felt the same desire and urge to go out there and grind and practice, and that’s affected my game.
“It’s one of those things that you never think is going to happen to you, I suppose. But I think when it happens, I think it’s important to have a good team of people around you to help you acknowledge it and help you sift through kind of where the problems lie.
“Is it that you don’t love the game any more or is it the fact that you just love being home with the family a bit more than normal? So I think just acknowledging it is obviously a big part of it. It’s not fun.
“I obviously haven’t enjoyed the season; not playing well, not scoring well, losing a little of confidence and belief. Thinking am I done, finished, washed up? Should I think about getting a new job?
“All these crazy human-instinct thoughts go through your mind and it’s just about trying to get back in your processes and trust what you’re doing.
“And knowing that it’s not necessarily going to happen fast.
“You’ve got to just dig in and start grinding again and go back to all the things that worked in the past. And just start enjoying the game really.
“It’s hard. It’s not been fun this year, definitely been one of the tougher seasons in the last seven or eight.
“But I feel like I’m learning a lot from it. Something I’ve done well in my career to this point is reacting well to the tough years and coming out the other side better and stronger and smarter,” he added.
“That’s what I’m kind of in right now, I’m in that learning curve and looking forward to being back on the leaderboard very soon.”
Asked what other job he could have done, McDowell joked: “I don’t know what I’d do. I didn’t get my engineering degree, so I can’t see me going back to college at this point.”