ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) – Graeme McDowell's first trip to America was a recruiting visit to the University of Alabama-Birmingham. It was a harrowing experience – not the recruiting part, but getting through customs.
McDowell said he planned to stay four days because he was coming from Northern Ireland, and that would be longer than the standard 48-hour recruiting trip. His problems began when he was asked by U.S. Customs where he was staying and didn't have the address.
"The guy said, `You're not on a recruiting trip here, are you?' I guess I would have been teed up to say, `No,' by my coach because obviously it wasn't within regulations," McDowell said. "I said, `No. Just vacationing and playing a little golf.'"
As for the address? McDowell only had the phone number of a UAB golfer with whom he was staying.
"The guy calls him in front of me and says, 'I have Mr. McDowell here. What is the purpose of his visit? Oh, he's on a recruiting trip?'" McDowell said. "So now I've just lied to this customs officer. Long story short, it was no big deal in the end. But I missed my connection to Birmingham. I spent the night in Memphis and thought, 'Man, what is this country all about?'"
It worked out well. McDowell won six times in his final year and received the Fred Haskins Award as the outstanding college golfer.
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