Last year McDowell arrived in South Carolina on the back of missing the halfway cut at the Masters, but came from four shots behind in the final round before beating Webb Simpson in a play-off.
Twelve months on, the former US Open champion again suffered an early exit from the year’s first major championship after rounds of 72 and 78 at Augusta National.
“Last year’s win was great, but it means nothing now,” McDowell said. “Now we have to treat it like another event.
“I’m looking forward to getting back and managing the expectations of a defending champion this year.”
While McDowell was off form at Augusta, three of his rivals at Hilton Head certainly were not, with 20-year-old Jordan Spieth finishing joint second, Matt Kuchar joint fifth and Kevin Stadler joint eighth.
McDowell has also been paired with first-round leader Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker in the first two rounds, while Spieth has been drawn with past and present Ryder Cup captains Davis Love and Tom Watson. Spieth’s performance in the Masters lifted him from 14th to fourth in the Ryder Cup qualifying standings.