Sport Golf

Saturday 10 December 2016

McDowell hoping age no barrier to future success

William S Callahan

Published 11/11/2016 | 02:30

Graeme McDowell, who opened the defence of his OHL Classic at Mayakoba title yesterday, finds himself in an interesting phase of his career at the age of 37. Photo: USA Today Sports
Graeme McDowell, who opened the defence of his OHL Classic at Mayakoba title yesterday, finds himself in an interesting phase of his career at the age of 37. Photo: USA Today Sports

Ageism is a buzzword for Tour golfers - because it's possible to win top titles as a young player, in middle age and in the veteran category.

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It also helps if you are gifted and motivated, but the great advantage golfers enjoy over other sportspeople is that their goals can be achieved at any stage of their career.

Graeme McDowell, who opened the defence of his OHL Classic at Mayakoba title yesterday, finds himself in an interesting phase of his career at the age of 37.

He has won 14 times as a professional, including the 2010 US Open. His wife recently gave birth to their second child, he has successful business interests and the question is: what next?

The Portrush man revealed his vision for the future and takes into account the age profile of champions, particularly in the last three years.

"I certainly feel fresher and more motivated than I have been in a long time, and I certainly would like to play really hard for the next six or seven years," he said.

"I have that dream of winning a tournament and having my kids come running onto the 72nd green.

"That's one of the visions motivating me right now, and of course a Major championship - I'd love to try and put one more of those on the board."

Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are the other end of the age profile as players who hit the top in their 20s, but McDowell takes confidence from Padraig Harrington's recent Portugal Masters win as a 45-year old, and Rod Pampling (47) taking the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas last Sunday.

"Golf is one of those timeless sports that if you can stay healthy, and probably more importantly, if you can stay mentally hungry and mentally fresh and motivated, you can play well for as long as you want in this game," he said.

Long term goals are part of the big picture, but the defending champion did not enjoy his first 18 holes at the OHL Classic yesterday, as he shot four-over-par 75.

Three-over after his first nine, he managed only one birdie for the day and needs a big improvement today.

Waterford's Seamus Power carded a three-under par 68 to lie just three behind clubhouse leaders Webb Simpson and Aaron Wise.

Power, who graduated from the Web.Com Tour, is competing in his fourth event on the full PGA Tour and played steadily, registering four birdies and a bogey on the El Camaleon layout.

Harrington's opening 76 for four-over par in the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa was a disappointment, but with no cut in the second event of the European Tour's Final Series, he has time and space for improvement over the next three days.

Chile's Felipe Aguilar, Jeunghun Wang of China and Ross Fisher (England) were joint leaders on 68.

Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson shot 69 to improve his chances of becoming Europe's No 1.

Nedbank Golf Challenge

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OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Live, Sky Sports 4, 6.0pm

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