Emotional McDowell back in action after devastation in Bahamas
Graeme McDowell has revealed he missed the European Tour's flagship event at Wentworth last week because of the recent hurricane which devastated the Bahamas and in the process ruined the lives of "people who me and my family hold dear".
The Portrush native returns to competition in today's first round of the Dunhill Links at Carnoustie, where he will be hopeful of a good start in his quest to appear in next year's Ryder Cup.
The BMW PGA Championship in Surrey was the first qualifying event and with so many points on offer, it seemed vital for McDowell until he cited "personal issues" as his reason for a late withdrawal.
The 40-year-old owns a holiday property in the Caribbean and decided that is where his priorities should lie.
He and his wife, Kristin, and their children, Vale Esme, 5, and Wills Edson, 3, were due to be on the Abaco Islands at the start of this month when Hurricane Dorian struck, but cancelled the trip in the midst of the forecasters' warnings.
"It has been an emotional few weeks and my mind hasn't been on golf," McDowell said.
"It was a beautiful community, but with the eye of the hurricane passing right over the island, every house was totally flattened. They found one of my wedges hundreds of yards away along the beach front. It is impossible to feel sorry for ourselves as friends we really care about have lost so much.
"To hear that people have not only lost their homes, but their lives, is an enormous tragedy with which we are still trying to come to terms.
"We've been helping with fundraising efforts and arranging for a truck of supplies carrying generators, along with food and water. We want to do as much as we possibly can to support the community and the Abaco Relief Fund that is helping to rebuild people's lives.
"We are talking about life and death and what you have to worry about is that there are more than 1,000 still not accounted for and that makes for scary stuff."
McDowell is part of a strong field in the famous Scottish pro-am that is also staged at St Andrews and Kingsbarns.
Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry are chasing the £650,000 (€734,000) first prize, as are last week's first and second, Danny Willett and Jon Rahm, who hopes to make life tough for Lowry in their battle for the Race to Dubai.
Paul Dunne and Pádraig Harrington are also in the field.