Inside the Ropes Graeme McDowell
By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
Graeme McDowell joined the PGA Tour after winning the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, making him eligible for the PGA Tour playoffs for the FedEx Cup. So far that’s been an exercise in futility. “FedEx has been tough for me the last few years,” said McDowell, who will try to turn things around this week in the Deutsche Bank Championship, second event of the playoffs, after missing the cut in the Barclays. “I haven’t really got into it, if you like. This is probably the first year I’m going in there with some certain numbers on the board. I’m guaranteed the first three (events).
“I kind of know what I have to do to get into the Tour Championship and sort of set that as my goal at the start of the year, to get into the Tour Championship. I wanted to experience that a little bit.”G-Mac shot 71-72 — 143 to miss the weekend by one stroke at the Barclays, and slipped 16 spots to 44th in the FedEx Cup standings, meaning he needs high finishes in the Deutsche Bank and the BMW Championship to climb back into the top 30 and make the field for the Tour Championship. Last year, he slid from 27th at the end of last regular season to 42nd after the BMW Championship and missed the Tour Championship by 12 spots on the FedEx Cup points list. In his three 2012 events, he missed the cut in the Barclays, tied for 74th in the Deutsche Bank and tied for 34th in the BMW Championship. It was even worse in 2011, even though he rose 20 spots to 73rd by tying for 43rd in the Barclays and tying for 37th in the Deutsche Bank, but he missed the BMW by three positions in the point standings. “It’s so volatile,” said McDowell, who is in much better position in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour, trailing only Henrik Stenson. “It’s a very, very different format from what we’re used to in regular golf throughout history. “The best player wins the money list, wins the best player of the year.
The FedEx playoffs, you can go in having a phenomenal season … Padraig Harrington wins two major championships (in 2008) and doesn’t get into the Tour Championship. “So that just about sums up how volatile the FedEx has been. It is what it is. You have just got to go in there and play aggressive and try to put some numbers up.” Even though he has claimed three victories this season, the second time since 2010 he has accomplished that, it’s been a strange year. McDowell captured the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in a playoff over Webb Simpson, beat Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria and won the Alstom Open de France by four strokes over Richard Sterne of South Africa. However, he also has missed the cut in six notable tournaments — the Masters, the U.S. Open, the Players Championship, the BMW PGA Championship, the Barclays and the Irish Open, his national championship. “They say, winning is a habit,” said the 34-year-old McDowell, something of a late bloomer who has claimed eight of his 12 professional victories since 2010. “It’s a contagious habit. It’s certainly a habit we like to get into.
“You can say my season this year has not really been that way. I haven’t fed off my victories maybe the way I needed to the last few months. Obviously I’ve won three times … but missed (some) cuts. “I think my season has not felt as inconsistent as perhaps it’s read. Those missed cuts, if you look at them, I missed by one at Augusta, missed by a couple at Players, missed by one at the Irish, missed by a couple at Wentworth, missed by a couple hundred at the U.S. Open. “It hasn’t really been as bad as it’s read.” G-Mac has a busy schedule coming up, as he will get married the week after the Tour championship to Kristin Stape, an interior designer he met when he hired her to furnish the house he bought in Lake Nona, Fla. Following the honeymoon, he will jump back into the Race to Dubai. “I’m actually getting married during the week of the Dunhill Links Championship (at St. Andrews),” said McDowell, who has been one of golf’s most eligible bachelors. ” … Making a sacrifice there, but it’s for the right reasons. You only get married once in your life, hopefully. “It’s obviously come off the back of a very busy summer of golf. … But I’m taking four weeks off just to enjoy, get married, and honeymoon and do all that good stuff. “Then I’ll be back for the Race to Dubai series and the end of the season on the European Tour.” For now, he’s looking for a payoff in the PGA Tour playoffs.