While a limited playing schedule this season has him well outside of qualifying for the Ryder Cup, Graeme McDowell is quietly confident five events in the next six weeks will lift him into Paul McGinley’s team.
McDowell’s French Open defence, commencing today on the National course outside of Versailles, is a first of two tournaments in Europe before three in the States, hopefully leading to the Irishman qualifying automatically for a fourth straight Ryder Cup.
The soon-to-be father is currently 16th overall on the points table and needs no reminder of his talent. Last year when he arrived in Versailles he was in the midst of an eight-week run when he missed five cuts but won three times.
“That just shows what a funny game this is as 2013 was probably one of my most inconsistent seasons ever, but with three victories,” he said.
“In saying that, I am enjoying my consistency this year, but I’m craving a win, craving the big, big weeks. So if I can keep executing my game plans and keep going through the processes and staying fresh, as I have purposely stayed fresh for a reason this summer, I am hoping there will be a big one or two inside me.”
And while he’s played just 11 events this year McDowell ruled out that in playing little golf he could have spoiled his Gleneagles goal.
“There’s no doubt I am slightly behind the eight ball in the Ryder Cup but there was always that chance and I am okay with that,” he said.
“But then I’ve got more golf to play the next two-and-a-half months than most guys. I’ve got this week’s French Open, the British Open, RBC Canadian Open, WGC Bridgestone, PGA Championship and then straight into four FedEx Play-Off events, so the golf is all in front of me.
“I want to be going into the Ryder Cup on form and my form these next couple of months will dictate whether I am on that team or whether I will need a wildcard pick or whether I miss the team all together.
“So it’s all in front of me and I will not look back and say ‘I was under-played’ as my Ryder Cup opportunity is now ahead of me.”
Joining McDowell teeing up on the 2018 Ryder Cup course is Pádraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, David Higgins, Simon Thornton and Mt. Juliet’s Kevin Phelan contesting the event for a first time in his career.
“This is my first time here and it’s a brilliant course and probably the best I’ve played this year,” said Phelan.
“So I am looking forward to both this week and next week as I received an invitation into the Scottish Open.”
And the 23-year old will be hoping to make that three in succession and join good friend Paul Dunne into next fortnight’s British Open with the top-three finishers, not otherwise exempt, among the top-10 at both the French and Scottish Open’s to qualify for Royal Liverpool.
“I was going to join Paul in qualifying on Tuesday but I withdrew last week to focus on this week. It was just great to see Paul qualify, I was delighted for him,” said Phelan.
“Paul’s a brilliant player so I’ve got the added incentive now to join him,” he added.
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