By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Graeme McDowell has been non-committal when it has come to which country he will represent in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil -- until now.
"I believe that me being here and representing Ireland will, you know, with the Olympic regulations, will mean that I will have to play for Ireland when it comes to the Olympics in 2016," McDowell said Wednesday from the ISPS HANDA World Cup in Australia.
Though McDowell is from Northern Ireland, he has the option to play for Great Britain or Ireland in the Olympics.
McDowell's fellow Northern Irishman, Rory McIlroy, has yet to decide which country he will play, and the subject has admittedly been a delicate one for the two.
"It is a very touchy political and religious subject, one that myself and Rory have not really enjoyed answering questions about the last few years because it is very difficult to pick a side because you are going to end up upsetting someone from either side really," McDowell said. "We grew up wanting to wear the green jacket and have the golf bag with the Ireland logo on it ... the Golf Union of Ireland looks after all the players in Ireland and I have always enjoyed being part of that. When it comes to the Olympic discussion, that raises some questions as to who we play for.
"I was always very much trying to sit the fence, again, because I really did not want to have to make that decision. So, you know, part of me feels relieved to not have to make that decision."
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
This week’s ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf will be held at one of the world’s finest courses – the Alister Mackenzie-designed Royal Melbourne Golf Club – and use a format that will mirror the one that will be used in the 2016 Olympics. Using stroke play – a team’s score will be the combined score of its two participants – also allows players to compete for an individual prize and Official World Golf Ranking points.
A strong field has assembled at Royal Melbourne. Here’s a look at some of the groups to keep an eye on (Note: all times local):
Adam Scott (Australia)-Matt Kuchar (USA)-Matteo Manassero (Italy): Adam Scott, the local favorite, plays alongside a representative from each of the past two World Cup champions. Matt Kuchar teamed with Gary Woodland to win in 2011, while the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, won the title in 2009. Manassero is representing Italy this week alongside Francesco Molinari. This group also features the top two finishers from last week’s Talisker Masters, also held at Royal Melbourne. Scott won that title by two shots over Kuchar; it was Scott’s second consecutive win after also winning the previous week’s Australian PGA Championship.
Jason Day (Australia)-Graeme McDowell (Ireland)-Jonas Blixt (Sweden): Australia’s other representative, Jason Day, will play alongside the McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, and Blixt, who has won twice on the PGA TOUR in the past 13 months.
Kevin Streelman (USA)-Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain)-Francesco Molinari (Italy): The past two World Cup champions are represented in this group. The United States won in 2011, while Italy won in 2009. All three members of this group are in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking, as well.
Ryo Ishikawa (Japan)-George Coetzee (South Africa)-Vijay Singh (Fiji): Ishikawa and Singh got off to strong starts in the fall portion of the 2013-14 schedule. Ishikawa is 17th in the FedExCup standings after making the cut in all three of his starts, including a runner-up at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Singh is 10th in the FedExCup after finishing runner-up at the Frys.com Open; he’s coming off a third-place finish at last week’s Talisker Masters at Royal Melbourne.
Victor Dubuisson (France)-K.J. Choi (Korea)-Hideto Tanihara (Japan): Dubuisson is one of the hottest players in the field, finishing in the top three in his past two starts on the European Tour; he won his first title at the Turkish Airlines Open and finished third at last week’s DP World Tour Championship-Dubai, the European Tour’s season finale. Tanihara won last week’s Taiheiyo Masters in Japan, finishing one shot ahead of teammate Ryo Ishikawa.
Graeme McDowell was giving up dozens of yards off the tee to Dustin Johnson in the final round at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, but that's not what bothered him.
It was the putter that bugged him, even after cruising through the final two rounds without a bogey.
"Proud of the way I played this week," said McDowell, who finished solo third, four shots behind Johnson. "A little bit of work needed on the flatstick. I can put better than I putted this week for sure."
Still, it was McDowell's first top-10 on the PGA TOUR since his win in April at the RBC Heritage. He had only three bogeys all week at Sheshan, but was left in awe of Johnson, who played with McDowell in the final group Sunday.
"He trenches one 350 down the middle and has the hands to hit that 70 yard shot to the front pin and make the putt," McDowell said. "He's just a quality, talented, very athletic classy player.
"Yeah, he makes mistakes, but when you've got a game as good as him, you can get away with a few mistakes. He drove it phenomenal. He's just got a great wedge game to go with just an outrageously good driving game."
McDowell wasn't hitting it 350 yards and straight like Johnson was all week, but his iron game was just as good. He was second to Johnson this week in greens hit despite giving up all those yards off the tee.
"Generally just very proud of myself the way I played this week tee to green, especially," McDowell said. "On the greens, room for improvement. But I didn't make a bogey all weekend."
McDowell is second to Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai standings with two weeks remaining, but the Northern Irishman is skipping next week's Turkish Airlines Open.
"As long as Henrik doesn't do anything too unsensible next week in Turkey, I'll have a good shot going into Dubai," McDowell said.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Dustin Johnson lost his three-shot lead but found it again late to win the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions on Sunday at Sheshan International.
After a bogey on the opening hole, Johnson posted six straight pars to fall behind both Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who were playing in the final group with Johnson. He responded with two birdies around the turn and a back-nine 31 that featured a hole-out eagle on the short par-4 16th to close it out.
For Johnson, who started his 2013-14 PGA TOUR Season this week, it's the second consecutive season he's opened with a victory.
Poulter finished alone in second, right where he started the day, three off the pace with McDowell another shot back.
Sergio Garcia, who closed with the day's best round (63) was alone in fourth while Justin Rose rounded out the top 5.
Tournament host Tiger Woods, defending champion Graeme McDowell and PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner are among the field for the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, which will be played Dec. 2-8 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Sixteen members of the 18-man field were announced Monday. The announced participants include 10 of the top 20 players in the FedExCup. The Northwestern Mutual World Challenge is a four-round, 72-hole stoke play event with a $3.5 million purse.The tournament, which awards Official World Golf Ranking points, is being held at Sherwood Country Club for the 15th consecutive year. The event's two exemptions will be announced at a later date.
The field also includes Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker, Ernie Els, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley and Jason Day
Tiger Woods has won the World Challenge five times throughout his career, his most recent win coming in 2011 with a dramatic six-foot birdie putt on the final hole. McDowell won both the 2010 and 2012 World Challenges.
"We are thrilled about the depth and talent of our field, and I'm looking forward to another exciting year of intense competition at Sherwood Country Club," Tiger Woods said. "It's so great to welcome Northwestern Mutual as the tournament's title sponsor. They have been an exceptional partner to the Foundation over the years."