Below-par Graeme McDowell refusing to hit panic button

Graeme McDowell refused to hit the FedEx Cup panic button and insisted he was already looking forward to the 2017-18 season before missing the cut in the US PGA at Quail Hollow.

The former US Open champion added a 76 to his opening 73 to finish on seven over par and miss his sixth cut of the year.

As a result, the 38-year old goes into next week’s Wyndham Championship needing a big finish to make the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings who qualify for first playoff event in New York later this month.

But despite that, he’s not putting himself under pressure to pull off do-or-die performance in Greensboro.

“I am not trying to hold a gun to my head, saying ‘let’s get to the playoffs’ because we need to get to the playoffs or else,” McDowell said.

“I feel like I am focused beyond the playoffs, and I am into next season already.

“I am not trying to put too much pressure on myself because it is too late in the season to be putting pressure on myself.

“I feel like I have done a lot of good things this season to have nothing to show for it, so it has been frustrating from that point of view.”

Ranked 82nd in the world at the end of last year, McDowell had eight top 30 finishes in the first half of the season but found himself outside the top 100 after following missed cuts in the US Open, the French Open and the Irish Open with another failure in the RBC Canadian Open two weeks ago.

Now ranked 109th, he missed the Masters and The Open and needed an invitation from the PGA of America to get in this week.

Despite all that, he insisted that he’s positive about the way his game is progressing, adding: “I really like the way I am moving and I am excited about next week. I have got a great end of year schedule.

“I go back to Europe, and I will probably play British Masters and the Dunhill Links and then come back over here and play two or three of the Fall series and try and get some points on the board.”

McDowell has been trying to gain more yardage for years but that’s now a lost cause, and his lack of driving power cost him dear at Quail Hollow, where he was ranked 119th for driving distance with an average tee shot of just 269 yards — more than 50 yards behind Rory McIlroy.

He complained after his first round 73 that he couldn’t get and “pressure” on the ball with the driver, making a 7,600-yard test even more of a beast.

He was pleased to chisel out a 73 on day one but after going out in five over par 40 yesterday, his chances of making the cut evaporated quickly on a course set up he rated as the trickiest he’s faced since last year’s US Open at Oakmont.

Struggling with his fairway woods this year, he was pleased with that part of his game, hitting a 222-yard approach to 35 feet at the 18th to finish with a birdie.

“It’s been a good warm-up this week because I feel I have not been playing well for the last few months is 200-250 range,” he explained.

“I should walk away from this week feeling pretty good about myself from that 200-plus yardage, which is going to stand me in good stead going forward.”

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