With the pressure well and truly mounting on his American Dream, Graeme McDowell tees up this week amongst a high-class field at the Valspar in Florida.
Graeme McDowell will hope to get out of his own way in a bid to reignite his PGA Tour hopes at Thursday’s starting Valspar Championship.
It only takes one good week in golf to change everything but for the former US Open Champion, those weeks are running out as his string of sponsors’ exemptions begins to shorten. After a week away from competition, as the best players in the world faced off at the year’s ‘fifth major’, no doubt GMac was fine tuning his game whilst imagining himself back amongst them.
This week represents another chance to ensure his future with 500 FedEx Cup points on offer at the $6.7 million event that boasts World No.1 Dustin Johnson in a field that accommodates six of the world’s top-20 at the Copperhead Course in Tampa.
Last year, Paul Casey was the man inspired as he returned to the winner’s circle after a nine year absence whilst overcoming Tiger Woods to get there. McDowell, who turns 40 in July, finished in a tie for 40th that year but enjoyed a T-15thfinish here in 2017.
He’ll have opportunities at the Valero Texas Open and RBC Heritage Classic in April to secure his PGA Tour future if unable to do so this week but he’ll be hoping to enjoy his golf at Innisbrook Resort instead of allowing the bigger picture to dictate his mood on the already brutal par-71 layout.
“I’m just trying to take a little pressure off myself and just realise that I love this game, I love being out there and I love doing what I do,” said GMac last week.
“But it’s hard to do because I want it really badly, I want to be back up there competing with these guys and I do feel like I have some good stuff in me
“My career so far has been pretty solid. If it ends now, so be it, but I’m going to enjoy what I have while I have it because if it was gone tomorrow, I would miss it.”
With the likes of defending champion Casey, Masters champ Patrick Reed, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia and Webb Simpson all in the field this week, where better to produce a confidence boosting display than in such high-class company for the experienced Portrush pro.