By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. – The smile that’s usually on Graeme McDowell’s face was a little more pronounced Tuesday while knocking it around his home club.
McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, had not won since December of that major-title year, when he won Tiger Woods’ tournament at Sherwood Country Club. Last Sunday, two years after that triumph, Sherwood was good to him again as the World Challenge ended a victory drought.
“For two years I've been saying things like ‘processes’ and ‘trying to get better and be patient and hopefully the wins will come’,” he said. “I guess I got fed up with telling everybody that ‘I'm playing well, playing well.’, guess I'm relieved to get across the line and take some nice confidence into this little off period I've got coming up.”
McDowell, also newly engaged, won’t tee it up again in competition until next season’s PGA TOUR Northern Trust Open at Riviera outside Los Angeles – a 10-week hiatus.
That’s a nice vacation when it’s kicked off with a win, as McDowell noted Tuesday during a media outing for Ecco Golf at his hometown Lake Nona Country Club.
The Northern Ireland native’s first win in two years was also his first win in Ecco shoes, specifically the company’s top-of-the-line Worlds Class GTX, an all-leather shoe that held up well at rain-soaked Sherwood.
“I want a shoe that’s going to complement what I’m wearing but give me a lot of performance and comfort as well,” McDowell said. “I like a golf shoe that I can take out of a box on a Thursday morning and have no trouble putting it in play that day, knowing I’ll walk off and my feet will be fine.”
Don’t look for McDowell to change anything in his bag going into 2013, but he is looking at moving within the Ecco family.
“We’re heading toward this hybrid-spikeless, that’s the way the (golf) world’s evolving. I’m going to be going toward the Tour Hybrid, with some customizing. For me, yes, it’s comfort and stability and performance, but let’s be honest, it’s about how it looks as well.”
It’s also about how many shoes he can take on the road.
“I probably travel with three, four pairs of shoes, and when I go to this Tour Hybrid next year, they’re going to be a little lighter, I might be able to travel with four, five, six pairs of shoes,” McDowell said with a smile. “That’s definitely a benefit of switching.”
The Tour Hybrid will have an MSRP of $190 and come in a variety of colors, all with Ecco’s Street outsole featuring 100 torsion bars for stability and comfort.
STRICKER SWITCH: Golf fans may have rubbed their eyes during the World Challenge when seeing what Steve Stricker wielded on the greens. Stricker used Odyssey White Hot Sabertooth mallet at Sherwood, with its fang-like construction the starkest of contrasts from the White Hot 2 blade which had enjoyed a permanent home in the bag.
Stricker finished 67th in strokes gained-putting in 2012 after ranking second in 2011. He finished eighth in the 18-man World Challenge, 11 shots behind McDowell.
WORKING VACATION: Rickie Fowler broke in a new Cobra arsenal at the World Challenge, including a new orange Amp Cell Pro driver, hybrid and irons, and Trusty Rusty wedges. Ian Poulter had a new silver Cobra Amp Cell fairway wood.
WINNER’S BAG: McDowell at the World
Driver: Cleveland Classic 290 (9 degrees)
Fairway wood: Cleveland Launcher Ultralite FL (15 degrees)
Hybrids: Adams Idea Pro A12 (17 degrees), Adams Idea A7 (22 degrees)
Irons: Srixon Z-TX 2 (4-9)
Wedges: Cleveland 588 Forged (48, 52, 58 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey White Hot No. 7
Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV prototype