March 8 2013
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
DORAL, Fla. -- When Graeme McDowell won last year at Sherwood Country Club, he gained more than just a victory over the tournament's host.
"I guess I found a little state of mind at Tiger's event," McDowell said. "I felt very under control and calm emotionally and I've found that really is the best place for me to be when I'm playing great golf."
Friday he did just that, shooting a 67 at TPC Blue Monster to get to 11 under with two rounds to play in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
He'll need that sense of calm come Saturday, too. McDowell will be paired with Woods, who leads by two, in the day's final group.
"I feel like I've learned a lot over the years playing with him," McDowell said. "(Saturday) is not about winning the golf tournament. (It's) just about maintaining position, maintaining the way I'm playing and trying to give myself a chance come Sunday afternoon."
Chief among the things McDowell has learned is to not be intimidated by the "circus" that Woods brings to a final pairing on the weekend of a star-studded tournament.
"It's more the environment that goes on inside and outside the ropes; a little louder, a little busier," McDowell said. "I've learned to understand and control and deal with and get acclimated to it.
"End of the day, it really doesn't matter who you're playing with. You're playing against the golf course."
Not that McDowell didn't notice the leaderboard, which included Phil Mickelson, who nearly played his way into the final pairing.
"I'm sure they would have liked Tiger and Phil in the last group tomorrow," McDowell said. "It would have been great for the tournament. It brings the crowds and puts people behind their TV screens and that's what's important.
"I saw Phil sneaking up the leaderboard there behind me and I said to (my caddie) Kenny (Comboy), 'Let's spoil this party tomorrow.'"