McDowell motivated more than ever
February 20, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- After battling a wrist injury earlier in the year, Graeme McDowell is motivated on getting back getting back inside the top 125 in the FedExCup standings. (Harry How/Getty Images)
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – The start to Graeme McDowell’s week was the kind he could only laugh at.
He arrived at the airport in Orlando with friend and former FedExCup champion Henrik Stenson, who was en route to Mexico City for the WGC-Mexico Championship. In the gate across from Stenson was McDowell, heading to Puerto Rico for this week’s Puerto Rico Open.
“It was heroes to the left, zeroes to the right,” said McDowell with a big smile on the putting green at Coco Beach Golf Club.
“It was a funny start to the week, but I’m excited to be back on the golf course. Any PGA TOUR event is a great opportunity. There are still a (lot of) FedExCup points and a lot to play for here.”
McDowell’s two-year exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba (part of the 2015-16 season) ran out last year, so he’s now re-focused on getting back inside the top 125 in the FedExCup standings.
He said he was battling a left-wrist injury earlier in the year, which caused him to miss all of January.
McDowell finished T-11 at The RSM Classic in November, his best TOUR finish since the 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, before returning to action at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am a few weeks ago.
He told PGATOUR.com he was feeling “95 percent heeled up.”
“I’m excited to be playing golf now,” he said.
He said he’s been working hard on the mental side of his game the last few years and said he’s starting to trust the belief he has in himself when he gets in contention once again.
He’s more motivated than ever, he said, by his three young children (Valyn, 10, Vale, 4, and Wills, 2) and the desire to have a big moment to share together.
“I want them to see me win, and I want to show them that Dad’s a great player and they won’t have to pull out the old archive videos,” said McDowell. “It’s more difficult to leave home (now) but the other part of it is that visual – you see guys lifting a trophy and the kids are running onto the 72nd green to give Dad a hug… that’s a special visual.”
McDowell turns 40 this year and has much to look forward to.
He had a special moment with his own father in 2010 at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and already has eyes on returning as a past champion to the storied Californian course this summer.
It was nice to return a few weeks ago he said (he finished T-18), and to be part of the lore at Pebble Beach is something special.
He’s going to have his father back on site again, and his wife will be there for the first time.
“It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to, but a lot of golf is still to be played,” he said.
Potentially a bigger goal than playing well again at Pebble Beach, McDowell said, is qualifying for this year’s Open Championship, taking place at McDowell’s pseudo home club in Northern Ireland: Royal Portrush.
Until then it’s going to be one thing at a time as he returns from injury.
“I’m in Puerto Rico, trying to stay in the present and I feel like I’m play well,” said McDowell. “I’d love to be competitive this week.”