McDowell’s Scottish hopes not ‘huge’
Ahead of the Barclays Scottish Open Graeme McDowell has admitted that his “expectations are not huge”
Graeme McDowell, golf’s newest major champion, returns to the European Tour at Loch Lomond on Thursday but admits it could be St Andrews next week before he is ready to contend again.
After two weeks of celebrating his stunning US Open victory at Pebble Beach – Europe’s first in the event since 1970 – McDowell said of the Barclays Scottish Open: “My expectations are not huge.
“This week it’s about getting the body back in shape and the business head screwed back on.
“No disrespect to this tournament – I’ve won around here – I just need to shake the rust out of the system.
“I’ve one eye on next week. I’m going to be practising very hard and I’m definitely keeping parties and celebrations to a bare minimum – there will none of that going on.
“I’ve made enough good swings the last few days to know that they are still in there and certainly mentally I can be ready for next week, for sure.
“I’m definitely going there with expectations of competing and playing well.”
McDowell has already made a trip to the home of golf to see the set-up for The Open starting next Thursday, and his excitement is fuelled by the fact that he shot a course record-equalling 62 there in the 2004 Dunhill Links Championship.
Whatever he says, the fact remains that he will be trying for a third successive win over the coming four days, having lifted the Wales Open before flying to the States.
Not surprisingly, he has hardly been able to take a step without being congratulated for what he achieved – as was the case at the JP McManus Pro-am in west Ireland on Monday and Tuesday.
“Players and caddies and friends and Tour officials and just people I’ve played with have come up to me. A lot of them are sort of disbelieving,” he said.
“They are the way I feel really, saying ‘unbelievable’. I’m sure I’ve surprised some people, but I hope that I haven’t surprised everyone.
“I hope that people know enough about my game to know that hopefully the win at Pebble wasn’t a fluke.
“I feel like I’ve showed enough mental strength down the stretch over the years to know that if I put myself in that position I can do it.
“I’ve always said that my game matches up well to the US Open-style golf course. I hope when people say ‘unbelievable’ they are just ecstatic for me.”
Phil Mickelson and Korean YE Yang, two more of the game’s four current major winners, are also in this week’s field and Mickelson will finally take the world number one spot off Tiger Woods if he finishes first or second.
Ernie Els made a late decision to play and Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen, John Daly, Camilo Villegas, last year’s US Open champion Lucas Glover, Tom Lehman and 18-year-old Japanese ace Ryo Ishikawa hope to make their presence felt as well.
But of the leading 11 Europeans in the world only two – McDowell and defending champion Martin Kaymer – are competing.
Lee Westwood had already withdrawn before the leg injury which would have ruled him out in any case, while the others are already turning their thoughts towards St Andrews.
That leaves the tournament as a massive opportunity for someone unexpected to jump into the Ryder Cup reckoning.
There is a first prize of £500,000 and anyone down to England’s David Horsey, winner of the BMW International Open two weeks ago, in 27th place on the points table could leap into a top nine spot and be part of the team as things stand.
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