French Open win eases McDowell`s Ryder Cup anxieties
Graeme McDowell, who secured the winning point for Europe at the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales, eased his anxieties about missing this year`s match in Scotland by landing the French Open title in Paris at the weekend.
The Northern Irishman has still not worked his way into the top nine automatic places in the team for the biennial battle with the United States in September, but he will be difficult to ignore as one of captain Paul McGinley`s three wildcard picks.
McDowell has played fewer tournaments this year in order to be fresh for later in the season and his plan seems to be paying off.
"I was kind of getting to that point where I was thinking, have I left this Ryder Cup race a little too late?", the 34-year-old told reporters after edging out American Kevin Stadler and Thailand`s Thongchai Jaidee by one stroke on Sunday.
"I said it wasn`t in my mind and it wasn`t something that was going to be bothering me, but of course I want to be on that team. I knew I needed to perform."
"It`s been a light schedule sort of on purpose. I was getting to the point where the pressure was on a little bit.
"I was like, `have I waited too long, have I underplayed?`. Thankfully, my energy levels mentally and physically were about as good as I have ever had at this point in the season," added the 2010 U.S. Open champion.
McDowell said the rain and wind the players had to combat in the final round on Sunday provided a helpful reminder of the conditions they are likely to experience in next week`s British Open at Hoylake.
"I`ve always thought of myself as a decent bad weather golfer until the last five years," the world number 17 explained. "I feel like I`m spending a little bit too much time in America, I`m a little bit soft and I needed that type of a day.
"It was good practice. You need to be ready for all types of weather at the Open and I was just trying to enjoy the challenge.
"I was really happy with some of the swings I made coming down the stretch and some of the putts I made."
McDowell has played in the last three Ryder Cups and believes he could form a good partnership with young Frenchman Victor Dubuisson who is almost certain to make his debut for Europe at Gleneagles in September.
"Victor is a great player and he`s a very nice guy," the Northern Irishman said of his playing partner in the opening two rounds of the French Open.
"I`m looking forward to hopefully being on the Ryder Cup team with him. We suggested that we might even try and play together.
"I like him a lot. He`s a very nice guy. I think French golf has a lot of very talented young players coming through with Victor and guys like Romain Wattel and Victor Rui," added McDowell.
"French golf should be very excited about their players. I think the media should get very excited about what`s going on in French golf with hosting the Ryder Cup in 2018."