Hungry G-Mac targeting Lahinch win to boost world ranking
Graeme McDowell is gunning for victory in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch as he plots his return to the world's top 50.
The Portrush man (39) continued his resurgence on his return to the scene of his 2010 US Open win when a closing 72 left him tied 16th, ten shots behind Gary Woodland.
After moving up 12 places to 89th in the world yesterday, his best ranking for two years, McDowell wants to compete with the best again, and he can't wait to get back to the venue where he won the 2000 South of Ireland Championship,
"Ambitions? Why not win the Irish Open at Lahinch? There's a goal!" McDowell said, recalling happy times at the Co. Clare links.
"I played the South of Ireland several times as an amateur, I won it in 2000, and I like Lahinch. Great town, great people. Good hospitality and the Guinness tastes pretty good, and it's a great golf course."
McDowell has missed being in the heat of battle in golf's biggest events, and he wants more.
"It didn't really go my way but just being out there, getting the juices flowing, being in the mix, rubbing shoulders with the best players in the world playing their best, it gives me that little bit of confidence to kick on," the former world No 4 said.
"If you'd told me 12 months ago I'd be going out in the last few groups in the US Open at Pebble Beach, I'd have absolutely taken that.
"I feel like I'm 25 or 30 again trying to get myself back up the rankings. I've done it once and maybe didn't appreciate it because when it went away, I missed that a lot.
"When I was down there at 250th, 270th, I knew what it meant to be top 100, top 50, top 20 in the world. It's a big deal."
McDowell will head home to Portrush before the trip to Lahinch to get his links game in shape and then join Rory McIlroy in Scotland.
Shane Lowry has two weeks off before Lahinch, where close pal Dara Lernihan, the Bray Golf Club professional, will caddie for him as the wife of regular bagman Brian Martin is expecting a baby.
"I feel good," Lowry said after he followed his runner-up finish to McIlroy in the Canadian Open with a share of 28th in California, moving up one place to 31st in the world.
"I am ready for a little mini break now, and it's nice to take it with a little bit of form and some good finishes. I am not going home thinking I am searching for something or anxious about coming back out. I know in Lahinch and as long as I keep ticking over the next three weeks, I know I will be bringing a decent golf game with me."
Lowry believes his new-found ability to accept both the good and the bad with equal grace is the key to his upsurge in form as he chases a Ryder Cup debut next year.
"I just need to keep riding the wave and hope the form is going to continue," he said after following a 75 at Pebble Beach with rounds of 69, 70 and 69. "Similar to Bethpage, I was on the cut mark for the last couple of holes on Friday and had to make some good swings and hit good shots coming in and I did.
"On another week, you don't and you are going home on Saturday feeling awful. I am going away feeling good about myself again."
The PGA Tour moves to Connecticut this week where Seamus Power and Pádraig Harrington tee it up in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.
Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan and Michael Hoey play the BMW International in Munich as Robin Dawson and Ruaidhri McGee head to Estepona for the Challenge Tour's Andalucia-Costa del Sol Match Play 9.