Page has turned for golfer McDowell
Bethesda (Maryland): Graeme McDowell believes it is time to get on with the rest of his career a year after he made his major breakthrough by winning the US Open.
Up until last year`s edition of the year`s second major at Pebble Beach, the Northern Irishman had been better-known as a top amateur and US collegiate champion who had failed to fully fulfill his potential.
After his stunning come-from-behind win in California, though, he was propelled into golfing stardom and he responded with last-day Ryder Cup heroics for Europe, a playoff win over Tiger Woods and a spot in the top 10.
It was all stirring stuff and the personable McDowell lapped it up, but there was a price to pay and he duly paid it as his golf game suffered from the saturation he was experiencing both on and off the course.
"It was such a busy end to 2010 that 2011 seemed to just be there all of a sudden on my doorstep and I was in Hawaii and in the Middle East, and those four weeks that came right after the Middle East, there`s no doubt I came back after those four weeks and I wasn`t the same guy." he said.
"I wasn`t swinging it the same way. I wasn`t feeling the same way.
"Sometimes a run of momentum and adrenaline sort of has to hit a brick wall, as I guess I hit my brick wall. I`ve been trying to get over that wall ever since.
"At some point, those kind of runs, I guess, inevitably have to come to an end, especially if you`re playing as much golf as I was."
Still, the 31-year-old who was brought up playing golf on the famed links of Portrush believes that the last few weeks have shown that he has gotten back that edge and focus to his game that has been missing.
There have been no more tournament wins but strong, if inconsistent, performances at the Players Championship, the British PGA and the Welsh Open have brought him into the US Open with a renewed feeling of optimism.
And the fact that he has now finally handed back the US Open trophy he has been displaying to all and sundry over the last year provides him with a fitting symbol that the page is turning.
"If anything, I feel like the glare is off me this week," he said. "I feel like I`ve done it.
"I`ve spent the last just under 12 months looking back at Pebble. I spent the last six months reflecting on 2010.
"And I mean, somehow having arrived here this week, I feel like I`ve done it now.
"I`m back yeah, my US Open trophy is back here with the USGA. I`ve handed it back and I`m ready to sort of get on with the rest of my career now."
McDowell says he is delighted with his draw for the first two rounds, which sees him set of in the company of British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and US Amateur champion Peter Uihlein.
"I couldn`t ask for a better group than that. I`m excited," he said.
"I feel less pressure already this week. I`m hoping it continues to Thursday. I really feel like I`m in a good frame of mind this week."