Graeme McDowell can prepare for the Ryder Cup later this year after a successful defence of his French Open title.
He yesterday completed a nine-stroke swing to overhaul leader Kevin Stadler, belatedly kick-started his season and moved him just outside the automatic qualifying places for Paul McGinley's team.
The 34-year-old Northern Irish man secured his 10th career win on the PGA European Tour and his 13th worldwide as a professional, with a closing 67 for a five-under-par total of 279, one ahead of Stadler.
This victory – a fortnight ahead of the British Open at Hoylake and a busy summer that will also take in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA – brings him straight on to McGinley’s radar.
“Myself, my team, we were starting to question the decision,” admitted McDowell, of a self-determined light schedule for the first part of the season that had not yielded a tour win up to Paris. “My body has probably never been in as good as shape as it has been at this point of the season . . . this is the boost I needed on many, many fronts, especially the Ryder Cup.”
This win moves McDowell to 1,381,140 in the European Ryder Cup points table and to 136.93 on the world points qualifying list.
The gentle tap on the door has turned into a fully-fledged knock, a reminder of his contribution to the past two winning Ryder Cup teams at Celtic Manor in 2010, when he secured the all-important winning singles point, and Medinah.
McDowell’s win – which moves him beyond €17 million in career earnings on the European Tour – has come as a confidence boost ahead of the British Openat Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
McDowell believes Hoylake is a course that suits his game. “It’s my kind of British Open set-up. You really have to find fairways off the tee and that is the staple of my game. There are big, flat greens where you can hole some putts. This [win] is a nice confidence booster.”
McDowell last night flew home to Florida. After a few days in Orlando he plans to fly into Liverpool next Sunday in preparation for the Open in what will start a four-week stint on tour that takes in the RBC Canadian Open, the WGC-Bridgestone and the US PGA.
McDowell was not the only Ulsterman to leave the National Golf Club with a smile. Michael Hoey secured one of three exemptions on offer into the British Open after a final round of 71 for seventh place.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Meadow continued her superb start as a professional by following up her tied-third finish in the US Open with a tied-third finish in the Ladies European Masters.
The 22-year-old from Co Antrim ended with a 63 to move through the field, finishing behind IK Kim at Buckinghamshire Golf Club on her Ladies European Tour debut.
plays in today’s qualifying event at Southport in an attempt to make it into this week’s Ricoh British Women’s Open at Royal Birkdale.
“I’m [also] waiting for some sponsor exemptions to see if I can play LPGA in the States. Goal-wise, I’m just going to . . . work harder than ever and see where that puts me.”