He offers the assessment not to put forth any sort of boastful prediction for the weekend; instead, Graeme McDowell was asked to measure his game and his attitude.
The last time they were in sync like this?
“The U.S. Open in 2010,” McDowell said.
Yes, he conquered that major championship, but what he remembers is this: “I had won in Wales where something had clicked. There was a knowingness when I got to Pebble Beach – a nice, neutral feeling, like I was floating gently downhill.”
That feeling is with him at Trump Doral, even if some might suggest he’s got an uphill battle on his hands at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, given that he goes into the weekend trailing a sizzling Tiger Woods by two. But the smile, the demeanor, the tone of his voice; it indicates that McDowell knows the challenge that faces him and eagerly embraces it.
He actually caught a glimpse of the leaderboard in late Friday’s second round and realized he was battling Phil Mickelson for second and thus the other spot in Saturday’s final pairing alongside Woods. “I said to Kenny (Comboy, his caddie), ‘Let’s spoil this party tomorrow,’ “ McDowell said. “I’m sure they would have liked Tiger and Phil in the last group.”
They won’t get it because the 33-year-old from Northern Ireland finished birdie, birdie to shoot 5-under 67 and push to 11 under, while Mickelson bogeyed the par-4 seventh and got into the clubhouse at 10 under. At every turn of the head there’s a marquee name – Steve Stricker at 10 under, Bubba Watson at 9 under, Charl Schwartzel and Keegan Bradley at 8 under – but of course it’s the name in the lead that has set the tone for this World Golf Championship.
But the guy right behind feels up to the challenge, just as he was three months ago when he won a tournament that had Woods’ imprints all over it: the World Challenge. While not an official victory and though he held off Keegan Bradley, not Woods, the triumph ushered McDowell into a massive hiatus that he insists is a big reason for present peace of mind. He’s engaged to be married and due to open a restaurant at Lake Nona, where he lives in Orlando, Fla., and says “I’m in a good place right now” with emphatic conviction.