Next stop in McDowell's busy life: Augusta National
WINDERMERE, Fla. –- Between the debut of his restaurant and his business on the golf course, it’s been quite the busy 10 days for Graeme McDowell.
McDowell took part in the grand opening for his new restaurant, Nona Blue Tavern, on March 15 in Lake Nona, Fla. The following week began the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where McDowell made the cut, finished T-45 and, most importantly, finished his round before the bad weather moved in Sunday afternoon.
Now comes two days at the Tavistock Cup at Isleworth Golf and Country Club. It’s his eighth appearance in the event that started as a crosstown rivalry between Isleworth and McDowell’s home, Lake Nona, and has since grown to a six-team affair.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said McDowell, who, paired with Ross Fisher, played against Adam Scott and Tim Clark Monday in what was an unofficial better-ball match due to the Monday finish at Bay Hill.
McDowell envisioned his new dining digs, which doubles as a sports bar, being a place where people can go to for an intimate dinner, or enjoy an adult beverage – 49 wines and 24 beers on tap to be more specific – and watch the game with friends.
And this past week it proved to be the hangout of choice for many golfers after their rounds at Bay Hill, including Fisher, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Graham DeLaet and Camilo Villegas.
“There’s been a bunch of guys over and I’ve really appreciated their support,” said McDowell, who celebrated Nona Blue’s opening by grilling burgers and pouring pints of Guinness for customers. “I’ve had great feedback on the place. . . . We’re really excited about it.”
He’s also excited about his golf game heading into his next start: the Masters.
Perhaps it has something to do with his strong start to 2013? Entering Bay Hill, McDowell notched three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a T-3 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, a T-9 at the Honda Classic and a quarterfinals appearance in the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
Or maybe it has to do with his recent success in major championships? Already the winner of one major, the 2010 U.S. Open, McDowell has finished T-12 or better in his past four major tournaments. That T-12 came last year at Augusta, where he missed three cuts in four starts prior to 2012.
“I’m looking forward to Augusta,” said McDowell, who plans to travel to Augusta the Sunday before tournament week and play a practice round with a few members. “Obviously (I have) more experience now, I’m learning how to prepare, learning the golf courses and just getting better really, that’s what it boils down to.”
McDowell has already said he’d buy a round of drinks for the people down at Nona Blue after winning a golf tournament. Winning the Masters would be no exception.
But what about helping Lake Nona to it’s fifth straight Tavistock title? Next round would still be on him, correct?
“Correct,” McDowell said.