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Major help for Graeme

US Open champion Graeme McDowell will seek advice from the likes of Pádraig Harrington and Ernie Els to avoid the possible pitfalls of becoming golf's latest major champion.

McDowell won the US Open at Pebble Beach last month, holding off Els, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in the final round to become the first European winner of the title since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

The 30-year-old Irishman admits he spent most of the next three weeks celebrating before returning to action at the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, but insists he is well aware of the dangers of his new status.

"In the short term there's not much I can do about it except try and play my own game," said McDowell, who is also the joint course record holder at St Andrews following a 62 in the Dunhill Links Championship in 2004.

"How I deal with it in the long term boils down to decisions that I make, my schedule, big decisions like that.

"I'm very aware of the pitfalls, complacency, expectation levels, trying to change my game now that I'm a major champion; there's all kinds of mistakes that guys have made in the past.

"I know plenty of the guys well enough, Ernie and Pádraig and guys like that, to be able to seek them out in the next few months to have some dinner with them and chat with them and understand how they have dealt with it in the past.

"I've got a great team of people working with me and I believe they'll not let me make the mistakes that will drag me down.

"I certainly hope I can take confidence and belief away from Pebble Beach.


"I'm a 30-year-old guy, 31 in a couple of weeks' time, I feel like I have my best days ahead of me.

"I'll be making sure I don't fall into any of the traps, speak to the right people and get some good advice and keep doing what I'm doing.

"It's difficult to put Pebble Beach behind me, and I don't want to put it behind me because I'm enjoying every second of it and it's been an amazing experience.

"But I've got to look forward to the rest of the season.

"I've got some big goals I want to achieve."

McDowell is one of four Northern Irish golfers in the field this week, alongside Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke -- who secured his place only by finishing second at Loch Lomond on Sunday -- and Gareth Maybin.

McIlroy has missed the cut in the last two majors and is 13 over par for the only two Opens he has played so far, but is still rated second favourite by the bookmakers behind Tiger Woods.

"Rory is a very experienced young man for a 21-year-old," McDowell added.

"I know he came here on Thursday and Friday last week and spent the last four days back in Northern Ireland playing at Royal County Down and Portrush.

"He's been on the big stage before, I don't think there's any risk he'll get overexcited. I really think Rory has a great chance this week.

"I think he loves this golf course, he's got a pretty mature head on young shoulders and he's got the game to do it."


Golfing greats like Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman have been queueing up to congratulate McDowell on last month's U.S. Open win, the Portrush native said yesterday.

"The response I've had via email, voicemail, text, website ... from all kinds of players has been just amazing," McDowell said. "(New Zealander) Frank Nobilo just asked for my number so he could pass it to Greg Norman.

"All the players coming up to me from both sides of the Atlantic have been really happy for me, using words like 'unbelievable' and 'amazing', asking me has it sunk in yet?

"It really hasn't, it's been a surreal few weeks. It's tough to pick out letters and emails from people -- Arnold Palmer, Peter Alliss, legends of the game," added McDowell.

"I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be able to enjoy my first major championship and everything that goes with it."