Monday 18 December 2017

'Moaning' McDowell ready to challenge for Race to Dubai title

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Phil Casey

Graeme McDowell admits he has "moaned and whined" about the venue for this week's DP World Tour Championship, but insists he will not let it ruin his chances of becoming European number one.

McDowell is one of three players who can win the Race to Dubai by claiming victory in the European Tour finale in Dubai, leader Henrik Stenson and US Open champion Justin Rose being the others.

The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates has previously not suited McDowell's game, but the Northern Irishman believes firmer and faster conditions could play into his hands.

"I do feel like I've stood in the (score) recording area out there and had a moan and a whine and maybe explained why I don't get around this course very well," McDowell said.

"But I come here with an open mind this week. I come here certainly as a player who I feel is getting better and learning and I'm experience enough to not write myself off around a golf course until I've had a few rounds under my belt.

"The golf course is firmer and faster this year which I think is going to suit me. The rough is penal. The course has matured, hopefully as well as I have, and I'm ready to see what I can do with an open mind this week."

McDowell was second in the Race to Dubai until missing last week's Turkish Airlines Open, where Justin Rose finished joint third to overtake him, Ian Poulter was fifth to close the gap and Stenson seventh to keep his nose in front.

"I didn't have any second thoughts about whether I should be in Turkey or not, but I looked at the leaderboard and I was like 'Really? Those guys have to play well this week"' the former US Open champion joked.

"But regardless of whether I was in Turkey or not, I would still be here this week controlling my own destiny and nothing has changed. I let my nearest competitors get a little further in front of me or catch up, but it doesn't change my strategy this week. I have to play well, I have to compete.

"You don't get many opportunities in a career to win an Order of Merit, a true order of merit. It's certainly something I'd love to add to my resume. A win here this week will take care of all business and I'm feeling fresh and motivated and excited to see what I can do here this week."

Ernie Els has led the criticism of the inaugural Final Series, which requires players to compete in two of the first three events to be eligible for Dubai.

However, McDowell believes the Tour should be given time to get the format "close to perfect".

"The premise is there, the premise is right," he added. "Four extremely strong events to finish off the European Tour season and the Tour certainly needs to be granted the time and a little bit of leniency to get it right, because it's not easy to please everyone."

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