Thursday 18 December 2014

McDowell gunning for Gleneagles

Published 09/08/2014 | 19:35

Graeme McDowell has decided to follow Rory McIlroy’s example and leave Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management
Graeme McDowell has decided to follow Rory McIlroy’s example and leave Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management

Graeme McDowell is confident he will make a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup appearance one way or the other at Gleneagles next month.

A run of three top-10-finishes after a successful title defence at the French Open lifted McDowell into the automatic qualifying places at the start of the US PGA Championship.

But with less than three points separating McDowell, Jamie Donaldson and Luke Donald in eighth, ninth and 10th in the standings respectively, the former US Open champion could still need to rely on a wild card from European captain Paul McGinley.

"I want to be in the automatic spots if I possibly can," said McDowell, who has just one qualifying event left on his schedule, the first FedEx Cup event in a fortnight's time.

"I will be going out there tomorrow all guns blazing and trying to shoot a low number to finish the week. Ryder Cup is very, very important to me.

"I'm not uncomfortable. I'm optimisitic about the way I'm playing, I'm optimisitc about my chances of finishing in the automatic spots and I'd be farily optimistic of the chances of a pick. I am not really too worried about it.

"My form the last couple of months has certainly shown the captain that I'm playing well. I will take a week off then get ready for the play-offs, keep some energy in the tank.

"I think I am pretty much guaranteed (to qualify for) the first three play-offs, but we are having our baby the second week so I will spend that week at home and experience that next chapter in my life."

McDowell, who secured the winning point at Celtic Manor in 2010, was in the first group out in the third round at Valhalla and finished play before tournament officials were ready to record his score and that of playing partner Brendon Todd.

In McDowell's case it was a level-par 71 which featured four birdies but a quadruple-bogey eight on the 13th, where he hit two approach shots into water surrounding the green.

"I played beautifully this morning, it's so disappointing to make an elementary quadruple bogey, a card-wrecker, tournament-wrecker, weekend-wrecker, all of the above really," McDowell added. "I think there might have been mud on the first ball but my second attempt was a bad shot.

"This was not really a course I was going to be able to compete on. I'm 71st in driving distance this week out of the 74 players who made the cut. The damage was done Thursday, I didn't really feel myself. My lower back was in bad shape on Friday and this morning was the only day I felt ready for it.

"It's a slog out there when you are only moving it 280 (yards) off the tee. You say 'only' 280 but it really is in this day and age when Jason Day is flying it 320, Rory is flying it 330. I am four shots behind these guys before I tee it up each day so I have to play very well elsewhere which I just haven't done.

"I'm literally wearing the grooves off my 5-wood, 3-hybrid and my four and five irons."

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