McDowell was hardly an unknown at Celtic Manor. He’d been unflappable in winning the U.S. Open just three months earlier, barely blinking as he withstood charges by Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els at Pebble Beach. He wasn’t a Ryder Cup rookie, either, going 2-1-1 at Valhalla.
But it was his performance in Wales that transformed the 33-year-old — on and off the course.
“Winning the U.S. Open, there was sort of an aftermath of congratulations from everyone. I think that lasted a few weeks,” McDowell said. “But the Ryder Cup was something a bit different because that was enjoyed by European fans, the European Tour, anyone that calls themselves European. I think I certainly got recognized more for that putt at the Ryder Cup than I did for my U.S. Open. There’s no doubt about that, certainly in Europe.”
McDowell hasn’t won a tournament since 2010 but he’s never far from the conversation, either. He’s made all but four cuts in 22 starts on the PGA and European tours this year, and has five top-five finishes. He settled for second at the U.S. Open after missing a 25-footer to force a playoff, and was fifth at the British after blowing up with a final-round 75.
“Where will I play on Sunday? Who knows?” he said. “Part of me would love that opportunity again — part of me would love it, part of me would hate it. I’ll take whatever comes.”
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