Graeme McDowell: A Winner Again

Tiger Wood’s World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, handpicked 18 of the world’s best golfers, but in the end, it only came down to two.

All of the greats fell by the wayside except for the winner, Graeme McDowell, and his closest pursuer, Keegan Bradley. With three birdies on the back nine, Bradley did not go gently into the good night. But neither did McDowell who had four birdies against just one bogey (a fluke 3-putt) on his back nine. He won by three.

It’s his second victory in this tournament, the last one coming two years ago. Unfortunately, those were the only two victories in those two years and he confessed to the media that he had been a little less than candid in speaking with them during that time. 

We like to say that it’s all about the processes and going through the motions and trying to get better.  But let’s be honest, we all measure ourselves by the wins.  I can say that now.

For two years I’ve been saying things like [golf is about] processes and trying to get better and be patient and hopefully the wins will come.

So I’m just relieved really to have — so I guess I got fed up with telling everybody that I’m playing well, playing well.  I guess I’m relieved to get across the line and take some nice confidence into this little off period I’ve got coming up.

So was he lying to the media?

Yeah.  I wasn’t lying to you.  I’m just trying to say what I should be saying, I suppose.  We pay sports psychologists a lot of money to tell us to say that.

You know, it really is about the processes, but listen, we need to win.  That’s why we’re out here.  That’s what — winning breeds winning, and you know, it’s a long career if you can’t pick up a few trophies, that’s for sure, and well, it can be a short career as well.

But you know, I know I’m good enough.  I think when you know you’re good enough, it gets even more frustrating.  That’s when you gotta tell yourself — I guess when I said to you guys it’s a process, I’m telling myself that.  I’m just trying to stay in the present, stay patient, and hopefully days like today will come.

That brought to mind his lackluster performance at the Ryder Cup. Not only did he agree that he was flat, he went a long way towards explaining just how much energy professional golf demands of a player.

Yeah, I think it’s fair to say I was not my best at the Ryder Cup.  I was burned out.  I was tired.  I was running on fumes.  I had two weeks off between the FedEx Playoffs and the Ryder Cup, and it wasn’t enough.  I needed to switch off completely.

It’s energy levels, though.  I made a mistake this summer.  I played too much golf.  Probably in hindsight I shouldn’t have played the first FedExCup playoff event, the Barclays.  But I played it.  It was too late to start withdrawing.  I was in too deep.

And then the Ryder Cup, you go there and you’re not going to find any energy there.  That’s a big week.  It’s a draining week, and I didn’t have it in the tank.  And that three weeks off [after that and before playing in the HSBC in China] was huge for me.

Then the subject turned to his good-natured relationship with Tiger. And in expanding his comments on that, he let slip that Tiger actually contributed his own money to the tournament. It was a measure of how important his foundation is to him.

Yeah.  He came off the course there on Friday and walked past me and said good playing, bleep.  (Laughs).  So you know, joke with a jab, I’m sure.

You know, it’s — I don’t know Tiger particularly well.  I always enjoy playing with him.  He’s very sociable at this event.  You know, huge respect, huge kudos for what he’s done here this week.  I know he’s put a lot of his own cash into the pot this week, and he’s really kept this thing alive and huge amount of respect for what he does this week and Woods Foundation in general.  He’s a great host and done great things for this week.

He was asked to characterize his last two years without a win and he ended up waxing philosophical about the nature of the game.

You know, I characterize these last two years, the first eight months just an absolute write-off.  Just haven’t been myself.  Frustration.  Dealing with my new [in demand] status, I guess, within the game.

And really for the last 15, 16 months I’ve been on that path or process I was talking about, you know.  Just really trying to get myself back together and get myself back to winning ways, and I guess this year has been frustrating born out of some great golf.  Getting in the last group of some major championships, which is what I dream of.

Yes, I’d like to win those, but you can’t win them all and it is frustrating at this point in time.  The game wasn’t giving me a huge amount this year.  I’ve really got a lot to show for myself.  You never deserve things in this game, you know.  The second that you think you deserve something, that’s the last — you’re not going to get it at that point in your life.  You gotta just try and stay in there and try and keep doing it.  It hasn’t really given me a lot of love this year, but this will certainly give me something nice to think about in the off season.

This 10 weeks is huge for me really just from a resetting and recharging and resetting my goals and getting ready for a big year next year.  This will give me some nice momentum going into the off season. I’m going to shut her down here for a few weeks and certainly I will draw on the confidence this has given me this week.

And finally, as a measure of McDowell’s sense of humor, having won this tournament twice and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he was asked how much he enjoyed playing in California.

Yeah.  I mean you know, my dollar average, my world ranking average around this country club is fairly high.  I think I’m — I’m probably right up there in the Top 5 in the world in California, no doubt about it.  We’ll have to look at playing a little bit more here on the West Coast.

And as always, delivered with that affable, Irish smile on his face and twinkle in his eye.

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