Iceman cometh as Furyk recalls McDowell's heroics
The Northern Ireland player’s efforts from 2010 still earn him high praise, reports PHILIP REID
HIS SHOULDERS better be strong. Again! Yesterday, Graeme McDowell’s ears were probably burning as people – from the European side and the other – threw praise his way. His own captain, José Maria Olazabal, described him as “one of our main men”; and American Jim Furyk, no slouch himself when it comes to answering the hard questions, talked of the Ulsterman having “ice in his veins”.
McDowell’s decisive singles win over Hunter Mahan in the 2010 match at Celtic Manor earned him the accolades. “He loves this competition,” observed Olazabal of G-Mac. “He’s a very gutsy player. it doesn’t matter if he is not striking the ball well, he’ll fight until the very end. He will fight for every shot, for every inch. And we saw that in the past. At Celtic Manor, for instance, he was last in that singles on [the weather-delayed] Monday and, I have to say, he was a little down on himself on Sunday night. But, as the match progressed that Monday, what he did was outstanding. He’s one of my main men.”
If anything, Furyk’s praise – coming from someone on the opposite side – was even stronger.
Of the player cast towards the bottom order of the final day’s singles knowing it could come down to him, Furyk remarked: “If it’s a tight match and you’re sitting in that seven to 11 range, it could come down to your match.
If you go out early, your match isn’t going to be the one. Every match is important. But that seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 match, usually comes down to one of those, teeters on the Ryder Cup, and you know it can happen.
“I think everyone who’s playing in this tournament would love to be in that position. You just have to be able to accept the fact that sometimes it turns out good and sometimes it doesn’t . . . my hat’s off to Graeme. As bad as I feel for Hunter [Mahan] the shots that were hit against him, the iron shot into 16, that putt down the hill. I mean,
Graeme has ice in his veins. That was as clutch of golf as I’ve ever seen or witnessed in my career,” said Furyk.
McDowell, of all people, doesn’t need reminding of his heroics on that day. “Coming down the stretch was some of the toughest golf I had ever played in my life and some of the most nerve-wracking. Someone was going to be the hero, and someone was going to be the villain. Thankfully, I was able to get the job done and it was definitely one of the most amazing moments of my career to be able to share that with 11 great team-mates. There’s nothing individual about the Ryder Cup. It’s a holistic approach and everyone tries to get the job done.
“Where will I play on Sunday? Who knows? Part of me would love that opportunity again. Part of me would hate it. I’ll take whatever comes,” said McDowell.