McDowell hoping to duplicate team match play success at WGC-Accenture

graeme mcdowell
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Graeme McDowell has won 15 of the 21 matches he's played in team events, but has been nowhere near as successful when competing on his own.
Mark Garrod
PA Sport


Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | 5:01 p.m.

Graeme McDowell hopes he will finally be able to replicate his excellent team match play record in individual competition this week, when the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship gets under way.

The Northern Irishman, whose memorable birdie putt on the 16th green at Celtic Manor effectively sealed Europe's Ryder Cup success back in October, has won 15 of the 21 matches he has played in the Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Seve Trophy. But the 31-year-old has been nowhere near as successful when competing on his own, managing to get beyond the first round of this tournament, made up of the world's top 64, just once in his four attempts.

The last two years have seen U.S. Open champion McDowell make first-round exits, and he is desperate to stay beyond Wednesday this time by beating Heath Slocum in his opener at the Ritz-Carlton Club.

"I look back at the last two years and I've had my clubs in their flight bag at 12.30 on Day 1," he said. "You start to think that this is the worst event in the world, but I have actually played pretty well the last couple of years and shot the equivalent of 67s and just gone home.

"Some other guys have shot 73s and managed to win,” he noted. "That's the nature of the beast. You run into a guy who plays great and you have got to try and play better than him."

But McDowell, who already has two third-place finishes to his name in 2011, knows Slocum will not be an easy opponent.

"There are no bad players in this field," he said. "Heath is a very solid player and he is the sort of guy who is going to make me go out and win the match. He is not going to be throwing shots away and giving me easy holes."

The world No. 4 was also asked for his views on the furor over Tiger Woods' fine for spitting at the Dubai Desert Classic.

"I know a lot of people have frowned upon it, but we all make mistakes,” said McDowell, who defeated Woods at the Chevron World Challenge last December. "At the end of the day, I feel privileged to be playing in the Tiger Woods' era. He has made golf a more profitable lifestyle and he has attracted a new set of fans to the sport."