By Tony Jimenez
WATFORD, England (Reuters) – Graeme McDowell has had a fruitless year in terms of victories but he appears to have re-focused on his career after experiencing family joy and golfing agony in quick succession.
The Florida-based Northern Irishman played his first event on European soil since July when he finished tied 15th at last week’s Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and is on course to do even better in the British Masters at The Grove.
“I really feel as if I’ve turned the corner in the last three or four months,” said McDowell after birdies at his last two holes on Friday gave him a three-under-par 68 and a challenging six-under aggregate of 136.
“A big part of the summer for me was having our second baby and having my family life start to stabilize.”
McDowell, who holed the winning putt for Europe in the 2010 Ryder Cup, failed to qualify for the team this year for the first time in a decade and it stung the 37-year-old.
“The Ryder Cup was a big thing for me,” he said. “Not making that team, I was sitting at home and watched pretty much every shot.
“It was a motivating factor. I really want to be in that team in France in two years time and I’m trying to drive myself on for the next chapter of my career.”
McDowell, who has won 10 times on the European Tour including his solitary major championship triumph at the 2010 U.S. Open, picked up five birdies on Friday but it was a par at the 17th, his eighth hole, that was a key to his second round.
“My drive caught the edge of a bunker and I was plugged under the lip,” he said.
“That was really big. Sometimes in a round it’s all about momentum,” added McDowell who eventually escaped with a four after sinking a 20-foot putt on the green.
The weather warmed up on Friday, after the players had to contend with bone-numbing temperatures in the opening round, and that also had a good effect on the world number 80.
“I even managed to get the sweater off,” said McDowell. “Scoring conditions were perfect and, for this time of year in England, I’m not sure I’ve seen better greens than what we are seeing here at The Grove.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)