McDowell inspired by the return of The Open to Royal Portrush
With one major to his name and three Ryder Cup wins as part of Team Europe, Graeme McDowell could be forgiven for drifting into retirement content with his career.
But the Northern Ireland ace wakes up every morning with one goal in mind; winning The Open in his home town.
Golf’s oldest major is back next week with the world’s finest heading to Carnoustie, but at Royal Portrush on the Causeway coast the countdown is already on to next year when it makes its return to The Open rota.
The famous course has waited 68 years to host The Open again after Max Faulkner’s triumph in 1951, while 2019 will mark just the second time the Claret Jug has left Great Britain. And McDowell is desperate not to miss out. It is eight years since he won his only major at the US Open and with Royal Portrush following a return to Pebble Beach next summer, the 38-year-old admits he can’t wait.
“I am inspired by it,” he said. “It is going to be an exciting journey from Carnoustie to Portrush. Next Sunday evening, there will be a board saying see you next year at Portrush and that will be so special for me. For a guy who grew up in Portrush playing golf, I dreamed this as a young boy. It is going to be a dream realised."
“There is no doubt I am looking forward to next summer and I am very motivated. I will be working as hard as I can on my game to make sure I can come here and be competitive. It is a pretty big summer for me in general, with the US Open going back to Pebble Beach where I won in 2010, and then six weeks later I’ll be here at Portrush so I could not script a better few weeks.
“It goes without saying I want to have my game in tip-top shape."
McDowell by his own admission has some work to do. After winning the US Open, he was one of the best in the world and came so close to lifting the Claret Jug in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St Annes. He lost out to Ernie Els that year but another run seemed inevitable. However, a mixture of injury and the arrival of his daughter in 2014 have slowed him down and this season he has achieved just one top ten finish on the PGA Tour. But still, he dreams of lifting the Claret Jug.
“It has been a quiet few years from my point of view and a lot has gone on off the course. I have got married and had a couple of kids and have just been living life I suppose,” he added. “But my motivation for the game has never gone. My priorities have changed and my time constraints have changed, so I suppose it has been hard to adapt to my new world. But I have been working hard in the last 12 to 18 months. I see things changing but it is not coming back as fast as I would like it to."
“I am trying to remain patient and I am very motivated to get myself back to the world’s top 25 and the top of the game. I still want two or three years at the top before it is all said and done.”
As an honorary life member of Royal Portrush, McDowell is already well placed. He knows all the course’s secrets and expects plenty of players will seek him out in the months before – and not just for advice on the course.
“I think the players will be presented with one of the best golf courses in the world, they are going to be given the experience of something very special,” he said. “I am sure all the guys will want to chat to me about it a lot and I will make sure they know where to go eat, and importantly where to go and have a Guinness if they need one.”
Graeme McDowell was speaking courtesy of Mastercard, a Patron of The 148th Open which takes place at Royal Portrush Golf Club between 14-21 July 2019.
Tickets are available now to members of The One Club – join for Free at TheOpen.com/PortrushTickets - and save £5 per order when purchasing with a Mastercard.