Monday 19 August 2019

McDowell aims to use Corales victory as springboard for more success

Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty Images
Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

They say you don't appreciate what you have until you lose it and that's undoubtedly true for Graeme McDowell as he took a step back towards the game's elite in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

The Portrush man's one-stroke win in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship might be the smallest of his 16 professional victories in terms of money, prestige and world ranking points.

But it could prove as significant as his 2010 US Open win having been forced to seek invitations this year to pad out his schedule after failing to make the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings last year.

"It's a big, big monkey off my back," he said.

"I'm really getting myself a schedule mapped out for the next couple years now where I can just settle down and start playing some golf, start playing the golf that I know I can play because I haven't let myself do that lately.

"I put too much pressure on myself. I said to you guys yesterday that (my caddie) Kenny's said to me, at some point, I was going to get tired of messing up, and this week I got tired messing up."

Satisfying

He added: "It's a relief right now, but this will not only be kind of a satisfying win, but it will be a springboard win as well. It's something I need to use now to kick on.

"I've never been to Atlanta, I've never been to the Tour Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs. That's the big goal. That has to be the goal.

"We've got The Open Championship at Portrush, which is obviously on my radar.

"This will free me up a lot to be able to play the schedule between now and July that I want to play that's going to help me achieve my goals."

It was a win that came three weeks after he had a chance to qualify for The Open with a top-10 finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and shot 78 to finish 54th.

"It's taken a few bad Sunday beats, a few Sundays like at Bay Hill where I walked away very disappointed and very down on myself," said McDowell.

The former world number four admitted afterwards that the win was a "massive relief" as he looks to regain his place amongst the game's elite.

Now exempt until the end of the 2021 season, he's up to 133rd in the world, 42nd in the FedExCup and flying high heading to this week's Valero Texas Open where the winner will clinch a place in the Masters.

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