Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell returns to the scene of his greatest personal triumph for the first time this week insisting his major victory at Pebble Beach will not define his career.
The Irishman is making his first appearance at the California course since 2010, when he became the first European for 40 years to win the US Open.
He will encounter a different experience at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am but there will be also a degree of familiarity as he will be playing alongside his 10-handicapper dad Kenny, who was present nearly four years ago for that landmark win.
“It was weird being out there. I forgot how slopey these greens are here at Pebble, how small they are,” said McDowell yesterday.
“A lot of people ask me ‘How come you have never been back since 2010?’
“I kind of say ‘Well, what’s the point of coming back? It’s not going to get any better than how it felt last time I was here’.
“It was pretty tough to top the experience that weekend – the emotions, being with my dad on Father’s Day, winning my first major championship – it doesn’t get any better than that so I really wasn’t in a rush to come back. Emotionally I don’t think that moment will be beaten in my career but I’m not going to put Pebble up there on a pedestal and say that is the highlight of my career because I want more.
“I want more Pebbles, I want more major championships, I want more things.
“Hopefully it will not define my career.
“I’m hoping to keep defining my career as I go so there’s a fine balance between getting too obsessed by it emotionally.”
This is McDowell’s first appearance this year and he is beginning his season at least a week earlier than usual, hoping to use the slightly more relaxed atmosphere at Pebble Beach to ease his way back into competition.
“Obviously to get to play with my dad was great but that wasn’t really the deciding factor,” he added.
“I started at Riviera (Northern Trust Open) last year but I felt it was quite a tricky place to start my season, coming in with the inevitable rust on my game.
“So I thought why not come to the pro-am here, have some fun, play golf courses which are maybe not set up as tough as regular tournaments would be.
“You get three rounds under your belt minimum.
“At least by the end of the week I’ll know where I’m at and I’m be able to start my season from this week and beyond.”
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