Graeme McDowell admitted he’d played too much golf this fall. He was exhausted. Yet this week, he mustered enough of the good stuff to battle drizzle and take the top prize at Tiger Woods’ tournament, the World Challenge, at Sherwood CC in Thousand Oaks, CA.
“The start today was incredibly difficult. The ball was going nowhere,” McDowell said after his victory. “It really brightened up for a couple of hours today and gave us an opportunity to play golf.”
McDowell played the final round with Keegan Bradley, who finished second, three shots behind McDowell.
“Keegan really pushed me today. He played great, and we really separated ourselves from the field and kind of made it the Match Play type vibe,” McDowell explained about the twosome.
Then he admitted, refreshingly, that he’d been frustrated not getting back to the winner’s circle for 18 months
“We like to say that it's all about the processes and going through the motions and trying to get better. But let's be honest, we all measure ourselves by the wins. I can say that now,” he added. “For two years I've been saying things like processes and trying to get better and be patient and hopefully the wins will come.”
He said he was tired of telling people he was playing well and was relieved to finally win against a good field. This tournament was, according to McDowell, the springboard to his 2010 season where he won the US Open.
“Winning breeds winning, and you know, it's a long career if you can't pick up a few trophies,” he added.
The 14 th hole was the key to his victory, he thought. He had just had his first three-putt at the 13th. Bradley had a birdie for a two-shot swing in Bradley’s favor.
“I had my first real bad swing of the day,” McDowell said. “I pulled my driver in the trees on 14. I had a really great chip out there on to the front edge of the green, and that lag putt was huge. If I go 3‑putting there, the question marks start coming, but great 2‑putt there.”
He said his birdie on the 16th was huge because Bradley also made birdie.
The second shot on the 18th hole was icing on the cake, really, giving him a three-shot margin after the round was over.
McDowell said he had over-scheduled himself in 2012.
“I think it's fair to say I was not my best at the Ryder Cup. I was burned out. I was tired. I was running on fumes,” he explained. He had two weeks off between the Fed Ex Cup and Ryder Cup but said it was not enough.
He then took three weeks off, and much of that time was spent without playing golf.
“I came into this run of events a lot fresher, a little bit more up for it,” he added. “It's energy levels, though. I made a mistake this summer. I played too much golf. Probably in hindsight I shouldn't have played the first FedExCup playoff event in Barclays. But I played it. It was too late to start withdrawing. I was in too deep.”
He’s been busy off the course too. McDowell recently became engaged and has been working on opening a restaurant/bar called Nona Blue and finishing his house.
He explained, “Let's just say the house has been quite the draw on my resources the last couple of years, and I'm looking forward to definitely throwing a little bit of this purse into finishing the house. And you never know, Christmas presents might get a little nicer. They were going to be nice anyway.”
McDowell will take the next 10 weeks off, teeing it up again in mid-February.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.