Graeme McDowell may have forfeited full PGA Tour membership but his standing in the game speaks volumes with the Ulsterman now headlining, alongside fellow Major Champions Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker, in April’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
McDowell returned to competition at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on an invitation but had to sit out the Farmers Insurance Open a fortnight earlier, also having been afforded an invitation, after bruising his lunate bone in his left wrist during a New Year holiday break in the Bahamas.
And in teeing-up at Pebble Beach, where he had captured the 2010 U.S. Open, McDowell bravely fought his way to a share of 18th place despite admitting his wrist felt just 80% and having the wrist also heavily strapped.
McDowell will tee-up in next week’s Puerto Rico Open and the following week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational along with the Valspar Championship (March 21st – 24th) and now has the Valero Texas Open on his schedule.
Organisers of the €6.6m Lone Star State tournament heralded McDowell’s appearance and McDowell has contested the event three times before, first in 2015 partnering Dustin Johnson and Furyk, but was forced to withdraw after just nine holes on day one of the event after he strained tendons in his left ankle while practicing earlier in the week.
McDowell returned to the Texas event in 2017 to finish just inside the top-30 after he and wife, Kristin, had politely turned-down an invitation that weekend to the ”Wedding of the Year” of Rory McIlroy, with McDowell keen to win for a first time since 2015. He also played in 2018 where he finished just outside the top 50 so this is the third consecutive year he’s now been in the field.
While highlighting the careers of Texas-born Spieth and Walker, along with Furyk and Dufner, organisers of the year’s Valero Texas Open promoted McDowell’s appearance saying:
“He won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where the national championship returns this year for the first time since then. Graeme has three PGA TOUR victories and eight European Tour titles and this will mark his third start here.”
Others contesting this year’s event include World No. 8 Rickie Fowler, 12th ranked Tony Finau as well as past Valero Texas Open champions Andrew Landry (2018), Kevin Chappell (2017), Jimmy Walker (2015), Martin Laird (2013) and Brendan Steele (2011). San Antonio residents Cameron Champ and Abraham Ancer are also in the field.