Graeme McDowell still aims to play in Ryder Cup

Feb 16, 2018; Pacific Palisades, CA, USA; Graeme McDowell acknowledges the crowd after his putt on the ninth green during the second round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

Graeme McDowell still aims to play in Ryder Cup

Professional

Graeme McDowell still aims to play in Ryder Cup

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Graeme McDowell hasn’t given up trying to make this year’s European Ryder Cup team as a player, despite being named as one of Thomas Bjorn’s five vice captains.

At 38, the Northern Irishman is the youngest of Bjorn’s backroom staff alongside Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson and Lee Westwood.

McDowell won the 2010 U.S. Open and played in four consecutive European Ryder Cup starting in 2008. He gained the winning point at Celtic Manor, Wales in 2010 when he defeated Hunter Mahan in singles. He was also a member of the victorious 2012 and 2014 European teams.

McDowell missed out on the 2016 match. Although he’s 75th on the world points list, many European golf watchers expected him to make a bid for Bjorn’s team to take on the United States at Le Golf National, Paris, this September. The Dane has four wild card picks, and can still choose the experienced McDowell if he runs into form this summer. That’s why McDowell’s decision to become a vice-captain surprised some.

“There’s a big run of tournaments coming up and it’s very doable,” McDowell said. “I’m playing better than I was this time two years ago. I’d love to give Thomas a problem, a positive problem. It’s certainly not reducing my effort level in any shape or form.”

McDowell’s desire to part of the team inside the ropes rather than outside was one reason he gave Bjorn’s invitation some consideration.

“It required a little bit of thought, but only a little,” McDowell admitted. “I felt comfortable announcing to the world what my own internal thoughts were that it would be nice to be there in some shape or form.

“It’s a positive because I’ve lowered my expectation levels, lowered everyone’s expectations levels. I felt like in 2016 I probably put too much pressure on myself, especially with the captain (Darren Clarke) ringing me up and saying, ‘get your ass in gear.’

“It’s really all about giving Thomas the support he needs right now, and really helping this team build and turn it into hopefully a winning team. In the meantime, I’m obviously focusing on my own golf, as well, and hoping to be on that team as a player.”

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