McDowell offers words of support for McIlroy
McIlroy won last year’s finale and believes he can mount a decent defence
Graeme McDowell in action during practice prior to the start of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
By his own admission, Rory McIlroy has had far more to occupy his mind this year than his closeness to Graeme McDowell. Still, an apparent cooling of the relationship between these close friends, highlighted by McIlroy’s non-appearance at McDowell’s wedding, was not a happy scenario.
McIlroy had taken exception to the public comments of McDowell about his messy split from the Horizon management group.
When McIlroy and McDowell partnered each other at the BMW Masters in China last month, all indications were that the pair were on strong terms again. McIlroy even explained afterwards that McDowell’s wife had done some interior-design work on the 24-year-old’s Florida home.
Speaking before the DP Tour World Championship in Dubai, McDowell offered both support and praise towards McIlroy as he looks to emerge from the on-course slump during 2013 which has been so determined by off-course matters.
“If Rory won this week I wouldn’t be surprised,” McDowell said. “I obviously played with him in the first round in China and his game looks back to its best. This is a golf course he knows how to get around so I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the leaderboard.
“If you can drive the ball well, which has always been a staple of Rory’s game, you can set yourself up to attack these greens which are hidden away from you.
“And just feeling comfortable at a venue always helps. I have talked about my general discomfort on this golf course over the last five years. I can only assume that Rory McIlroy is pretty comfortable, having won around here in style last year.
“He’s the kind of player that, when he is on, he can win anywhere. I think he has the tools to get the job done. It is difficult to comment on anything else really, because I haven’t seen enough of him lately to know what he needs to change,or where his head is at. He has had a lot of distractions off the golf course this year . . . but his game certainly looks to be back to its best.”
McDowell remains a Horizon client, which makes it tricky for the 2010 US Open winner to speak expansively on McIlroy’s situation.
When he did previously, McDowell was only responding to questions rather than volunteering opinion.
The case between McIlroy and his former management group is subject to a high-profile, and highly valuable, legal case. Yet McDowell knows McIlroy better than anybody else on tour, and understands the value of a calm golfing head.
“I think when you have a balance in your life, certainly off the course, that really frees up the mind and body to perform on the golf course,” McDowell added. “Rory is a very talented young man. We all go through learning curves and we all experience things that throw us outside of our comfort zone.