Graeme McDowell in confident mood before Major test at Augusta
Irishman is ranked second in scoring averages on the PGA Tour
Graeme McDowell: “I’ve had a solid start to the season. Everything is in good shape and I’m hitting the ball well, putting well.” Photo: Harry How/Getty
Not so much the quiet man, as one flying in a little under the radar. Graeme McDowell – who has taken his time to acquire the know-how to master Augusta National’s differing demands–- has, it would seem, found that the mix of statistics, superstition and time have given him a potent potion going into a seventh appearance here at the Masters.
History, admittedly, hasn’t been too kind to the man known as G-Mac. Of his previous six appearances, he has made the cut just twice – with a best finish of tied-12th in 2012 – but, this time, there is a different belief. Statistically, for one, he tops the strokes gained category in putting on the PGA Tour and, for another, he is ranked second in scoring averages, with 69.53.
Food for thought.
And, then, there is the superstition. As McDowell put it: “all sportsmen in general are superstitious. We all have our preparation keys, our little check lists that we go through. Our lucky tees. Our lucky marker.
“I think preparation is part of a sportsman’s superstition, and I think golfers are about as superstitious as you can get. I am a guy who likes to tick all the boxes and make sure that I am ready.”
One other little superstition, though, is planted in the back of his mind. The one that tells us that in the four Major championships which Tiger Woods has missed since the world number one’s last Major success in the 2008 US Open, each and every one of them have been won by an Irishman: Pádraig Harrington in the 2008 British Open and US PGA; Rory McIlroy in the 2011 US Open, and Darren Clarke in the 2011 British Open.
“Yeah, I did read that and it’s a pretty incredible stat. Let’s hope that pattern continues. Is it my turn? It might be my turn. Who knows?”
McDowell would prefer to take things into his own hands.
“I am upbeat,” he confessed, adding: “I’ve had a solid start to the season. Everything is in good shape and I’m hitting the ball well, putting well, which is key around here this week. You have to chip and putt well.
“The putting gets a lot of emphasis but the chipping and bunker play probably don’t get so much emphasis as keys around this golf course. Chipping and bunker play is huge for me because that means you can take on the flags a bit more.
“I am looking forward to the challenge. It is not my best Major championship by any stretch of the imagination but I am playing better and better (at Augusta) every year. I am more experienced and I know more about the course . . . .
“I am coming in here with my expectations nicely in check because of my record. I feel good. I am nice and chilled and looking forward to the week.”