McDowell relishing Abu Dhabi challenge

Graeme McDowell cannot wait to pick up his clubs again in Abu Dhabi after a second successive top-six finish at the Hong Kong Open capped a storming end to the year for the two-time European Tour winner.

Graeme McDowell cannot wait to pick up his clubs again in Abu Dhabi after a second successive top-six finish at the Hong Kong Open capped a storming end to the year for the two-time European Tour winner.

McDowell returned to Europe earlier this year after failing to retain his PGA Tour card and finished 37th on the Order of Merit after recording 10 top-20 finishes.

The 28-year-old 2002 Scandinavian Masters and 2004 Italian Open winner capped his year with a tie for fourth place finish at the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama following an 11th-place finish at the Mallorca Classic.

Playing in his final event of 2007 at the Hong Kong Golf Club, which is actually his first on the 2008 European calendar, before taking a nine-week break from action prior to January’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, McDowell claimed sixth place yesterday, four strokes adrift of champion Miguel Angel Jimenez.

“I am a little bit frustrated but it is a great way to finish the year at Valderrama and really good finishes before that. I played great at Valderrama and I had a really solid week this week so maybe the end of year is coming a little too quick, I wish I had a few more decent events to play,” said McDowell.

“I am not taking anything away from the end of the season stuff in Australia and South Africa, but I wish I had a Wentworth or a K-Club to go to right now. But there is nothing I can do, there are a lot of positives to take away into my break and I hope to come out firing in January.

“It is good to rest on some positive stuff and be ready to go in January. It’s great to go into the off-season with a lot of positive thoughts and feeling good about my game and I know I will be excited to put the tee in the ground at Abu Dhabi.

“I have a lot of great stuff to work on, I have been really happy with the progress I have made with my swing and short game this year. I am very happy with my week’s work.”

McDowell earned himself an early afternoon tee time in the seventh last group on Sunday after carding 17 birdies against eight bogeys in his opening trio of under par rounds.

He added another two birdies on the back nine to sign for a hard-fought final round bogey-free 68 at a blustery Fanling course to finish 11-under-par overall.

“I did what I said I had to do and kept bogeys off my card, but I just didn’t get enough birdies, it was a lot trickier out there. I seemed to always get it 15-feet above the hole all day long, giving myself tricky little putts downhill,” he said.

“I’m very happy with my week’s work, four rounds in the 60s. Three, four, two, two under par, which I am very content with.”

While McDowell’s finish handed him an ideal start to the new Order of Merit, it also fired him into 16th place on the Ryder Cup European Points List.

“I’ll get a lot of Ryder Cup point, that was my goal to get some in the board,” he added. “I have never got of to this good of a start before in a Ryder Cup race and I have put myself there or thereabouts and I’ve given myself something to play for early season next year.”

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