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G-Mac now has Majors in sight after taking 'eye off the ball'


McDowell celebrates with his caddie. Photo: Getty Images

McDowell celebrates with his caddie. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

McDowell celebrates with his caddie. Photo: Getty Images

Graeme McDowell's rude awakening after losing his PGA Tour card was key to his re-emergence as a top-50 player.

The Portrush star (40) found himself 262nd in the world just 12 months ago and worried about his future.

But after finding the strength to win the Saudi International and jump to 47th in the world and into the automatic Ryder Cup qualifying places, he's setting his sights on the world's top 20 and adding to his Major haul.

"Life can get in the way of what you are trying to do on the golf course," said the father of three, who admitted to being "worried" whether he still had the X-factor required to get over the line on Sunday.

"These are great problems; getting married and having children and having restaurants and businesses. Then all of a sudden, you take your eye off the ball for like one second and you are 240th in the world and thinking, 'What just happened?'

"I was sitting at home [early last year] with a wrist injury with no card on PGA Tour and wondered where my future was going to lie. It was difficult. But I was realistic. I had a positive attitude, which was important."

With new coach Chris Kirk rekindling his ambition, he won the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic last March to reclaim his PGA Tour card. Since then, he's rebuilt his confidence and more importantly, he's managed to keeping the golfing gremlins out of his head.

"If I start to tell myself, hey, this is a really lofty goal you have yourself here, these guys are really good, maybe you're not good enough anymore, you're old, you're not in really good shape, you're a bit fat and maybe you're not very good; if that was the quality of my talk, yeah, I'm going to have a tough time getting there."

McDowell can now pencil the WGC Mexico Championship and almost certainly the WGC Dell Match Play into his schedule and may have to cancel a family holiday should he remain in the top 50 and qualify for the Masters

"This one feels different," he said of his 16th worldwide win. "My goal is to get back in the Top 20 in the world and to be competing. I want another chance at a Maajor championship on the back nine on a Sunday. It's a lofty goal. There's going to be a lot of steps between here and then, but this really gives me the kick-on that I need."

As for the Ryder Cup and a text message of encouragement from recent Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Lee Westwood (46) on the eve of Sunday's final round, he's still cautious about his chances of forcing skipper Pádraig Harrington to find a new vice-captaincy candidate for Whistling Straits.

"I'm a little like Lee; I want to play my way onto the team and I don't want to have to rely on that pick, but we'll see."

Irish Independent