Wednesday 17 January 2018

McDowell dealing with Major headache

Graeme McDowell. Photo: AP
Graeme McDowell. Photo: AP

Karl McGinty

Graeme McDowell is learning how to live and compete in the vortex into which golf's Major-winners are thrown.

It has not been easy, the US Open champion admits, to balance the extra demands brought about by success with the need to devote as much time and attention to the thing that made him famous -- his golf game.

Having attributed back-to-back missed cuts at Bay Hill and the US Masters to "trying to do too many things off the golf course", McDowell insisted he's back in game mode once again, and he hopes to prove that point at this week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

"Life is a hell of a lot busier than it used be," he conceded. "At my management company the phone rings a lot more these days, people with requests and commitments and various bibs and bobs like that.

"Off course, we've been on a learning curve this season, trying to ensure that I get to the first tee on Thursday ready to go -- making sure I don't spend so much time running around on Tuesday and Wednesday trying to keep sponsors happy and fulfil media commitments that I overlook the important things like practising, preparing, resting and making sure I'm ready to play.

"At the end of the day I'm still a golfer, so nothing has changed from that viewpoint. It's not that I wasn't enjoying the game. It's just that I was feeling a little distracted at times. Now I'm just ready to go."

McDowell hit the ground running at last week's Heritage and after opening rounds of 68 and 69, had propelled himself into third at one point on Saturday before playing the final six holes in five-over.

He hopes to bring the buzz of downtown New Orleans, where McDowell is staying this week, onto a "more user-friendly" Dye course at TPC Louisiana.

Should we believe in Poulter-geists?

Ian Poulter regaled his followers on Twitter last week with tales of a mischievous ghost in the house he occupied at Harbor Town.

Insisting there was a "strange feeling" in the house, Poulter revealed they had locked and bolted the front door each night and "every morning that door is unlocked and slightly open".

Instead of designing a garish multi-coloured sheet for this visitor, Poulter appealed for John Daly to "come and scare our ghost away".

Poulter has flown to Korea for this weekend's Ballantines Championship. Since the spectre didn't follow him from The Heritage, the Englishman's Twitter page has reverted to its usual mirror-gazing banality.

As he closes in on the 1.2m following golf 'Twitter King' Stewart Cink, one wonders if Poulter's ghost might have been a little more mischievous than the usual poltergeist.

Meanwhile, Poulter won the Hong Kong Open on his last visit to the Far East but his tepid form on the PGA Tour so far in 2011 suggests he doesn't have a ghostly against world No 1 Lee Westwood and Co in Korea.

Whoops, those words could come back to haunt us!

Was bellyacher Els just talking rot?

Ernie Els admitted in Korea this week he's been taking a lot of stick from Tour colleagues for playing with a belly putter.

And quite right too.

I witnessed at first hand the astonishing rant by Els against his fellow South African Trevor Immelman for using a belly putter at the 2004 Deutsche Bank TPC of Europe at St Leon Rot, Germany.

The subject arose after Immelman used a belly putter during a sensational first-round 65. Here's the (slightly edited) transcript:

Questioner: Have you ever used one of those belly putters?

Ernie Els: No.

Q: Because?

EE: It should be banned.

Q: Are you joking?

EE: No, definitely.

Q: Why?

EE: Because, here we go (laughter), I think they should be banned. I think nerves and the skill of putting is part of the game. You know, take a tablet if you can't handle it ... I think it's becoming such an easier way to putt.

You actually push it into your body and then you can make kind of a perfect stroke, whereas (with an ordinary putter) your hands are not always going to be in the perfect position ... That's why I say they should ban it.

Q: On principal, you wouldn't use one?

EE: I wouldn't say never, but it just doesn't feel right to me. I think it's the perfect stroke.

One can only imagine the crisis of confidence with his putting that encouraged Els to sell out his principles. Perhaps this helps explain why nobody has ever won a Major title using a long putter.

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