Graeme McDowell knows he’ll be travelling to this year’s Ryder Cup but the big question is, will he also be packing his golf clubs?
McDowell’s already got the nod from European Team captain, Padraig Harrington that he will be one of the fellow Irishman’s vice-captains but then McDowell is fiercely determined to qualify automatically to the Whistling Straits team.
GMac’s predominant PGA Tour 2020 season schedule means if he’s to qualify, it will be via the ‘World’ points table and even after a superb fourth place finish at the recent Sony Hawaiian Open, he’s well down in 35th place on that list.
Though McDowell, and now into his 19th year in the pro ranks, has never been known to take a backward step.
“My way into the European Team is through the World Points list so that means I am going to have do that off the World Rankings, and there’s World Rankings up for grabs every week on the PGA Tour,” he said.
“It is why I have come here to the Middle East for these two weeks and that’s the World Ranking points on offer.
“I know that if I am going to make the Ryder Cup team, I am going to have to play well no matter where I compete, and that means I am going to have to get into a few of the Majors and WGCs.
“It’s just about consistency, picking-up a few good results early such as my Hawaiian Open result and then continue to be solid going forward.
“So, getting on the Ryder Cup team is my No. 1 goal and hopefully the rest takes care of itself. You just have to have that attitude of coming into each week prepared to try and win a golf tournament no matter what or where the tournament is.
“It’s also about getting the head right to show-up every week.
“I am going to play pretty much the same schedule this year as in past years including Saudi next week, Pebble Beach, Honda Classic, Bay Hill, Players Championship, Dominican or Dell Match-Play, the Valero Texas Open and hopefully the Masters the week after.
“It’s not going to break my heart if I don’t get into the Masters as I have never really done well around Augusta.
“That aside, it’s the start of my 19th full season out here and I am just as keen as my first year to play well, and I feel like Kevin [Kirk, coach] has really brought an intensity back to my practice and my preparation.
“I am hitting the ball as well as I have hit in in a long time. I have my ball flight back in control again and flighting the ball way better than I have in a long while.
“So, I am excited about the year. I am feeling pretty healthy and I am both physically and mentally. I’m ready to go and excited about the season ahead.”
Joining McDowell in this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic is the Open Champion winning duo of Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry.
Harrington, surprisingly, is making his first appearance in the event since 2004 having teed-up each year in neighbouring Abu Dhabi before heading off to the PGA Tour.
And Harrington has a good record on the Emirates lay-out, albeit nearly 20-years ago when he and Tiger Woods shared second place behind Dane Thomas Bjorn in the 2001 event.
“I’ve been to Dubai many times since I was here at the Emirates 16-years ago but not played this Emirates course and while I’ve noticed the many changes in the building backdrop, I don’t remember the course all that well,” he said.
“I remember Tiger and myself pushing Thomas all the way in 2001 but not the course, so it’s good to be back.
“In saying that, the golf course is playing about the same length while the rough is up, and it’s a great lay-out.”
Full scoring HERE