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McDowell desperate to make Major impact on road to Ryder Cup


Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty Images

Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty Images

Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty Images

GRAEME McDOWELL hopes to make life easy for the headline writers in 2012.

The Portrush man wants to see three words writ large on newspaper pages in the coming weeks: 'G-Mac is back!'

"I want to shake off the frustrations of last year and get back to playing the way I know I can and competing in the Majors," said 2010 US Open champion McDowell, as he returns fit and refreshed from his longest winter break in years.

"I missed the cut in three of the four Majors last year and that's not good enough, so I am looking to get my consistency levels back."

McDowell has felt the electricity at this week's Abu Dhabi Championship as Tiger Woods prepares to take on the world's top four -- No 1 Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and course specialist Martin Kaymer, who is bidding for an Abu Dhabi hat-trick next Sunday and his fourth victory here in five years.

Yet McIlroy is the pick of this star-studded bunch. Second to Kaymer last January, the 22-year-old developed a winning habit over last winter in the wake of June's stunning US Open victory at Congressional.

Playing for the first time on Tour with Woods in a marquee group that also includes Donald should inspire the Holywood showman to keep up the momentum he gained in November's Shanghai Masters and December's Hong Kong Open.

McDowell is looking further down the road, nominating a place on Europe's Ryder Cup team at Medinah as a primary target.

"It's going to be a great team and hard to get on, but I know if I can make the Ryder Cup come September, I'll have had a good season. So it's an important part of my strategy for the year."

Right now he's "a tad rusty after four or five nice weeks off. I put the clubs away for a couple of weeks and haven't hit a huge amount of balls," he explains. "But I've been in the gym, so I'm feeling physically and mentally very fresh."

McDowell is one of a powerful nine-man Irish contingent here, including fellow Major winners Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington. The latter has started a trial period with Donald's motivator David Alred in an effort to narrow his focus on the range and the golf course.

After 10 years with Ping, Gareth Maybin has switched to TaylorMade, while Peter Lawrie will give his new belly putter at least three months to bed in properly before making a final judgment on it.

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 6.0; Sky Sports 2, 10.0

Farmers Insurance Open,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 8.0

Irish Independent