DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Graeme McDowell may have the U.S. Open trophy, all the money in the world and international fame, but he looked like any ordinary club golfer after the second round of the $7.5 million Dubai World Championship.
The Northern Irishman just wanted to suck back a few beers and forget about the game of golf.
Welcome to the world the rest of us inhabit, Graeme.
Of course, most of us don’t play for potential paydays of over $2.6 million. That’s the money McDowell will earn if he wins the Dubai World Championship. He’ll take home $1.2 million for finishing first, and another $1.4 in bonus money for finishing ahead of Martin Kaymer on the European money list.
McDowell’s only problem is he’s having a hard time keeping pace with Kaymer. The German is turning the sprint to become European No. 1 into a one-horse race.
Just under $400,000 behind the German on the money list, the U.S. Open champion has his work cut out for him over the weekend. Kaymer’s game is razor sharp. McDowell’s is dull as dishwasher, at least by the evidence of the first two rounds.
Kaymer dusted up McDowell by five shots in round one, a 5-under-par 67 to McDowell’s 72. No wonder McDowell didn’t want to play with Kaymer in the second round.
“It frustrated me a little bit playing with him because he was playing so well,” McDowell said. “He made me feel like I was shooting 80.”
His frustration was nothing compared to what he went through in Round 2 when he finished the front nine with back-to-back bogeys after moving to 3-under-par. Two bogeys on the back nine for a 73 didn’t help either.
Then he looked at the leaderboard to find Kaymer at 6 under par and in contention. No wonder the affable Northern Irishman was looking for solace in a bottle.
“I’ve got to somehow go out and relax and have a good time this weekend,” he said. “Maybe that means go and have a few beers tonight and hang out in the pool. I nearly have to try and switch off a little bit because I’m so switched on. I’m trying desperately hard.”
To be fair to McDowell, this is fifth week in row. He’s added events to his schedule to try to catch Kaymer, while the German has had the luxury of taking weeks off. It’s not conducive to playing the best two rounds of his life over the next two days.
“I’m not writing myself off, but I’ve got to shot two 65s this weekend.”
That looks like a pipe dream. The Earth Course doesn’t exactly fit his eye.
“I find this golf course quite difficult. The second I get out of position, I find it tough to scramble.
“The greens are tough to read. They are tough to putt. Every time I miss a green and I get it up around six feet for par, I can’t seem to make them.
“It’s a tough golf course. It doesn’t give you a lot.”
It doesn’t look like it will give McDowell the European number one title he covets so much.
This party isn’t over, but the lights are on dim in preparation for Kaymer’s crowning as the new king of Europe.
Come Sunday night, McDowell might be ready for a case of beer, not just a few cold ones.