McDowell looks to start afresh
Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell
DUBAI - And the 36-year-old is hopes to build on that in what is an important year with the Ryder Cup and the Olympics pencilled in.
Graeme McDowell is eager to put the bad patch behind him and start afresh in the new year, starting with the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which tees off at the Majlis Course of the Emirates Golf Club from Thursday.
The Irishman went through the worst period of his career last year where he made the cut in only eight of the 15 PGA Tour events that he had entered. Among that, he had just one top-five finish, in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.
But he somehow salvaged the season with his third PGA Tour title at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico last November to end his drought.
And the 36-year-old is hopes to build on that in what is an important year with the Ryder Cup and the Olympics pencilled in.
His last top 10 on the European Tour came here at the Desert Classic last year.
"I think that win in México was special on a lot of levels because I felt like I really kind of ground it out for four or five months to get there," McDowell said on Wednesday.
"I'm trying to use that as a bit of a springboard, take the pressure off myself and just get back to believing that I can play the kind of golf that can compete most weeks I tee it up. And coming into the new year, I'm feeling a lot looser and a lot fresher and playing better than I was this time last year. I really feel like I can have a big year from here. I'm excited about how the schedule lays out in front of me, and the way I'm playing and the way I'm feeling," he added.
With a packed calendar coming up, the 2010 US Open champion is not thinking of the Olympics just yet.
"Obviously, the first half of the year doesn't really change too much, but from June onwards, it's going to be a pretty interesting sort of three or four months. The Olympics, of course, obviously with Shane (Lowry) being ahead of me in the World Rankings, is not really sort of in my thinking right now," he said.
And McDowell said his appearance in the Olympics depends on where he is placed in the world rankings. He has dropped down from 57 at the end of last year to 69.
"If I play the kind of golf that I expect to play the next six months, of course it will be back on my radar. But Shane will obviously control that himself, as well. If he plays the way he's been playing lately, he's going to be tough to catch. I'm just trying to keep my head down and try to play the schedule the next six months and play as well as I can and cross the Olympic bridge when we come to it I suppose," said McDowell.
"It's not really in my hands right now, well, I suppose it is. We'll see. All you can do is play hard through the US Open and just see where that leaves me. It's going to be an interesting summer and we'll just have to let it happen, I suppose," he added.
As a prelude to that, McDowell revealed he will has added a couple of more events to his schedule and the main targets were to do well in The Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
"The Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup is one of my goals this year. Of course, The Ryder Cup's a massive goal for me, as well. I've got a lot of agendas, but I'll just be trying to focus, play a bit more golf and try and stay sharp and not kind of fall into the complacency that made me play some bad golf end of 2014 into 2015. I'm just trying to avoid that from happening going forward," added McDowell.