U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell is gearing up for a shot at winning his second major in two months, bidding to become European No. 1 and making another Ryder Cup appearance. But he needs a break first.
The Northern Irishman, who turns 31 in just under two weeks, has spent plenty of time enjoying his surprise win at Pebble Beach in June. He admitted it hadn’t been the best preparation for last week's British Open but, after finishing in a share of 23rd at St. Andrews, alongside off-form 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, he plans to draw a line under his celebrations.
After after a well-deserved week off, he hopes to return refreshed and ease himself back into things at the Irish Open before travelling to the United States to challenge at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, the final major of the year, at Whistling Straits.
"There is a new major champion (Open winner Louis Oosthuizen) and that takes the focus off me a little bit, and there is definitely going to be that bit of me coming down," said McDowell. "That is good because I need to re-set, rest up and get ready for a big three weeks and a big end of the season.
"I'm not going to do much this week, lay low and maybe hit the odd ball at Portrush but I've a lot of rest planned to recharge the batteries,” he explained. "The Open was maybe a week too soon. I could have probably done with using those two weeks after Pebble a bit more wisely, but you want to celebrate and enjoy yourself.
"I'm down from Cloud Nine to about Cloud Five,” he said. “There was definitely a sense of coming down last week. I tried hard to focus but it was difficult. Maybe I'm lacking that killer edge, that grind. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm very much looking forward to the Irish Open at Killarney and then moving on to Firestone and then the PGA."
McDowell's U.S. Open success guaranteed him a place on Colin Montgomerie's European team and a second successive Ryder Cup appearance. The Northern Irishman played in the defeat to the USA at Valhalla in Kentucky and is keen to make amends when the event comes to Celtic Manor in October, while also maintaining his challenge to be Europe's top golfer in the Race to Dubai.
"I'm very excited about the Ryder Cup. I think we will have a magnificent team and it was one of my huge goals this summer," he added. "One of my favorite spinoffs to winning the U.S. Open was getting on the Ryder Cup team. I'm excited about the prospect of playing with (fellow Northern Irishman) Rory McIlroy and winning the trophy back.
"I'll take a bit of time off after the PGA to get ready for a big run,” he revealed. "The Race to Dubai I've got a really good chance to contend and win that so it is a very big end to the season."
While McDowell's position on Europe's team is secure, the place of three-time major winner Padraig Harrington is not. The Irishman hasn’t won since his back-to-back major triumph of 2008 when he won his second Claret Jug and the PGA Championship. McDowell said Montgomerie couldn’t justify picking the world No. 17 at the moment, but stressed there was plenty of time for him to rectify the situation.
"On current form maybe not, but he played pretty well at Firestone and the PGA last year, so if he starts playing better he is the kind of guy we need in the team," he said. "If you tee it up against him you are going to be scared of him and he will grind you down in match play. If he is playing well, he is a great pick, but there are a lot of players who need to pick things up. There is a lot of stuff to happen between now and the picks and I'm sure Monty is wishing he had an extra pick at the minute, but things will unfold more in the next six weeks."