European Ryder Cup teammates Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell tee up in the Austrian Open on Thursday with contrasting buildups.
Jimenez wants to maintain the solid form that has netted him three titles this year, while McDowell hopes to rediscover his touch at the Diamond Country Club after a lengthy break.
Following recent wins in the Omega European Masters and Alstom French Open, Jimenez, easily the oldest member of Europe’s Ryder team at 46, dismisses any thought that he should rest up completely before the biggest pressure week of the golf year.
McDowell, on the other hand, is returning to tournament golf after four weeks off in search of the form that has deserted him since winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in mid-June. In five tournaments following his first major win, the Northern Irishman’s best finish has been 21st at the Barclays Scottish Open. He missed the cut by two shots at the PGA Championship, his last event.
Jimenez makes no attempt to deny that his approach to his golf career bucks the modern trend of the young pros who spend hours in gyms, follow special diets and manage tight schedules.
“This week I will try and win a fourth tournament for 2010,” he says. “Then next week I will be resting before the Ryder Cup. I will rest, exercise a little, eat well and keep doing the same things as always. You don’t need to change anything just because it’s the Ryder Cup.
“You are in the team because you are doing something well. I will have some nice red wine, maybe a special Rioja, and some good cigars because that’s what I always do,” he explained. “You have to be yourself. Golf is not only about doing one thing well, it’s about finding a good level for lots of different things.
“You need to enjoy your life and what you do, too. That’s very important.”
In contrast, McDowell has has been weighed down by his success at Pebble Beach and has had difficulty coping with increased demands for his time.
“Since the PGA Championship I’ve had four weeks rest after a very busy spring and summer,” McDowell said. “I needed some rest and time away from the game but now I need to play some competitive golf before the Ryder Cup to sharpen up and get back into the groove of competition.
“The last four weeks I’ve averaged about 30 minutes of practice each day. The last month has been about getting my head refreshed,” he added. “We play a lot of golf and this week I will be playing or practicing seven to eight hours a day. It’s impossible to do that all the time.
“From now until the end of the season I will be working very hard, so it was important to recharge my batteries.”
During his month off, McDowell has been replaced atop the European Tour’s Race to Dubai money list by Martin Kaymer, following the latter’s wins at the PGA Championship and in last week’s KLM Open. The German has opened a $650,000 lead at the top of the list and even should McDowell win in Austria on Sunday, the $163,000 first prize will not make a big hole in Kaymer’s advantage.