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McDowell thankful for the chance to compete



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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Graeme McDowell started counting his U.S. Open blessings long before he raised the championship trophy.

The morning of May 24, in fact.

That day he got up, glanced at the world rankings and breathed a sigh of relief. He was 49th and thus exempt into the U.S. Open and British Open.

“OK, then, I’ve got my schedule now,” McDowell said to himself.

Not that he necessarily felt he had breezed into the 49th spot. Quite the contrary, McDowell had been ranked 50th going into the BMW PGA Championship when he shot 70-71-71-74 to finish T-28. The poor finish, he thought, had cost him dearly and that night he went out with his caddie, Ken Conboy, and manager, Conor Ridge, “and we had a heart-to-heart talk.”

One decision that was made that night was to let his fortunes rest with the world rankings – if he was inside the top 50, so be it; if not, he was not going to do the U.S. Open qualifier in Surrey, England, the next day. Instead, he would be making plans to stay home, then travel to the BMW championship in Munich.

“It’s a complex mathematical thing,” McDowell said of the world rankings. “It came down to a shot here, a shot there.”

In other words, he was very close to not even being in the Pebble Beach field.

And as we all know, you can’t win if you don’t tee it up, which is why McDowell is most certainly counting his blessings – for his play, yes, but also for the way the numbers were crunched.

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