Saturday 21 October 2017

McDowell admits focus is now on next season

FedEx Cup play-offs not a priority for G-Mac after disappointing missed cut, writes Brian Keogh

McDowell: ‘Good warm-up’. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
McDowell: ‘Good warm-up’. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Graeme McDowell insisted he 'will not hold a gun to his head' in next week's Wyndham Championship after his sixth missed cut of the year in the US PGA left him in danger of missing the FedEx Cup play-offs.

The former US Open champion (38) added a 76 to his opening 73 at Quail Hollow to miss the cut comfortably on seven-over par.

Ranked 131st in the standings starting this week, he will need a strong finish in Greensboro next Sunday to make it to the first FedEx Cup playoff event- The Northern Trust at Glen Oaks Club in New York- but he's not unduly worried.

"I am not trying to hold a gun to my head, saying, 'Let's get to the playoffs because we need to get to the play-offs or else'," McDowell said at Quail Hollow.

"I feel like I am focused beyond the playoffs and I am into next season already.

"I am not trying to put too much pressure on myself because it is too late in the season to be putting pressure on myself.

Frustrating "I feel like I have done a lot of good things this season to have nothing to show for it, so it has been frustrating from that point of view."

McDowell played well for little reward for the first half of the season before following missed cuts in the US Open, the French Open and the Irish Open with another failure in the RBC Canadian Open two weeks ago.

Now ranked 109th in the world, he missed the Masters and The Open and needed an invitation from the PGA of America to get in this week. Despite all that, he insisted that he's positive about the way his game is progressing.

"I really like the way I am moving and I am excited about next week." he said. "I have got a great end of year schedule.

"I go back to Europe and I will probably play British Masters and the Dunhill Links and then come back over here and play two or three of the Fall series and try and get some points on the board."

McDowell's lack of driving power cost him dear at Quail Hollow, where he was ranked 119th for driving distance with an average tee-shot of just 269 yards - more than 50 yards behind compatriot Rory McIlroy.

He complained after his first round 73 that he couldn't get and "pressure" on the ball with the driver, making a 7,600-yard test even more of a beast.

"Obviously, I have only played the US Open but watching and reading between the lines this is the toughest test of the four Majors this year," McDowell said.

He was pleased to chisel out a 73 on day one but after going out in five-over-par 40 yesterday, his chances of making the cut evaporated quickly on a course set up he rated as the trickiest he's faced since last year's US Open at Oakmont.

Struggled The Rathmore man has struggled with his fairway woods this year but with new three wood and hybrid in his bag this week, he hit a 222-yard approach to 35 feet at the 18th and made the birdie putt to finish on a high.

"It's been a good warm-up this week because I feel I have not been playing well for the last few months in the 200-250 range," he explained.

"I should walk away from this week feeling pretty good about myself from that 200-plus yardage, which is going to stand me in good stead going forward."

Irish Independent

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