Graeme McDowell declared he’s not ready to return to Europe and will continue to battle through the pain barrier as he seeks to overcome a left wrist injury and regain exempt status on the PGA Tour.
McDowell has his left wrist heavily strapped after bruising the lunate bone while hitting golf balls during a New Year family holiday in the Bahamas and‘G Mac’ initially believed the injury to be a new-season practice session twitch but the pain remained until a scan revealed the true source of the injury.
After both he and Shane Lowry forfeited their PGA Tour cards at the end of last year the last thing McDowell needed was an injury that already had him having to forgo invitations to tee-up in both last month’s Desert Classic at La Quinta and last fortnight’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
McDowell admitted his wrist is still only 80% fit and continued popping pain-killers and anti-inflammatory’s after a gusty 68 on day one of the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am followed by a second round 70, which leaves him just outside the Top 20 on five under par.
“I feel about 80 percent but then I’m not used to be injured,” he said. “This body doesn’t look like much, but it hasn’t been injured very much thank God, but it’s been a frustrating time. Nice to be on the golf course.”
The Florida-based McDowell rekindled memories of his 2010 U.S. Open triumph as he headed into day three of the €6.64m event just five shots off the lead held by five players; Mickelson, Glover, Langley, Casey and Spieth with Shane Lowry struggling a long way down the field in T128 on four over par.
“The pain just didn’t go away and the results from some scans showed a bone bruise in my left wrist,” he said.
“I had the scan right before I was due to go to Palm Springs and they told me not to play, so I took that week off and tried to play again right before Torrey Pines and they didn’t like it, so I pulled out right before Torrey.”
“I was starting to get very frustrated, so let’s just say today I was very, very happy to be back on the golf course as it felt good to be out there.”
“It all came about simply hitting golf balls and that is the disappointing thing. I was trying to work on something as I was trying to bow my left wrist a bit more kind of like I used to and I don’t know, my wrist just did not enjoy that.”
“I was down at the Bakers Bay club in the Bahamas with the family over the New Year and I wasn’t even hitting a bunch of balls, so it was really random and really obscure kind of weird injury and it’s been a month, over a month and it’s still bothering me.”
“At first, I wasn’t paying any attention to it. I thought at the time it was just my normal early season tweak and this will go away but it didn’t go away. It was not the start to a new season I wanted but like I say, I am just extremely happy to be on the golf course today and excited to hit some good-looking shots, as well.”
“That has been the frustrating part the last month or so as when I have managed to take my wrist up and hit some ball’s I was semi pain free for half-an-hour, and I’ve hit the ball really well in practice. But I have not been able to manage it to where I could play 18 holes. I played 18 holes on Tuesday and that was my first 18 holes since 29th December”.
As McDowell headed into day three he revealed he has been extended invitations into three upcoming events in succession –
February 21st starting Puerto Rico Open,
February 28th starting Honda Classic, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
March 7th starting Arnold Palmer Invitational, Orlando, Florida
As well, McDowell’s been extended sponsor’s invitations into –
March 21st starting Valspar Championship, Tampa, Florida
April 4th starting Valero Texas Open, San Antonia, Texas
April 18th starting RBC Heritage Classic, Hilton Head, South Carolina.
And with a young family back home at Lake Nona in Florida, McDowell insists he dearly needs to regain full Tour playing rights in the States.
“The way I look at it I have 18 months here on the PGA Tour to get myself together,” he said.
“I really don’t want to have to go back to the European Tour. I’ve got young children settled over here and I don’t want to do the Europe thing. So, I do need to get myself straightened out over here.”
“I have got to have a job in the U.S. to go to and while Europe will always be there, and it helped shaped my career and I have exemptions back home, I have got to take care of things over here.”
“After ending last year ranked 126th and in the group who finished the 125th to 150th, I can call on favours and that is what I have been doing.
People have been great to me as you can see I have a pretty decent schedule and just upset somewhat in missing my first two events of the New Year.”
“But the invitation ticket won’t last forever as I only have a certain amount of time where my status in the game will carry me.”
And while focusing on the PGA Tour, McDowell has confirmed he will return to Ireland for the July 4th commencing Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch.
“Yes, looking forward to heading down to Lahinch as it’s been a very long time since I was there last,” he said. “I’ll also play the Scottish while The Open at Portrush is a huge goal, a massive goal.”
“There’s still a lot of ways I can get in and whether or not I do, I’ll still be there for what promises to be one of the more exciting Open Championship’s in a very, very long time.”