G-Mac hoping to regain form and boost Ryder Cup hopes in Saudi International defence

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Graeme McDowell is hoping to regain his form and give his Ryder Cup hopes a boost in this week’s Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, where he will defend his title at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia.

The Northern Irishman is currently in 30th spot on the European Team rankings for this September’s 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, USA. McDowell featured in four successive editions of the biennial matchplay team event from 2008 to 2014, the last three resulting in victories for Team Europe.

McDowell, who amassed a 8-5-2 record from 15 Ryder Cup matches, noted that he would love to play under Team Europe’s Irish captain Padraig Harrington.

“I would love to play this year. It would be great to obviously play under Padraig but it goes without saying, if I don’t make the team as a player, I would love to help, love to be in the team room, love to be alongside Padraig and do everything I can to support the European team,” said McDowell.

McDowell added that he hopes to someday lead Team Europe against the Americans, having been vice-captain to Thomas Bjorn in the last Ryder Cup in Paris three years ago when Europe ran out clear winners by 17.5 points to 10.5.

“If I want to be captain one day, which I do, I understand I’ll have – it’s not have to, I want to – learn the mechanics of what it takes to be a great captain by being vice-captain and kind of studying under these guys,” said the 41-year-old, who won the 2010 US Open for his sole Major title.

“But for the time being, my dreams of still playing are still real and if I’m there, great. If I’m not, if I’m not playing, I’m 100 percent ready to do whatever I can for Team Europe.”

In last year’s Saudi International, McDowell chalked up his 11th European Tour victory in impressive fashion by two shots over current World No 1 Dustin Johnson. However, the forced break due to Covid-19 derailed McDowell’s season and he has struggled to regain that form since, missing the cut in his last two European Tour starts in the Middle East swing.

“That three, four-month break, it broke my momentum a little bit and I didn’t respond well when we came back in the summer. But it’s nice to come back, always nice to come back to a golf course where you have great memories. I would love to get some of that momentum back again this week. That would be really, really awesome,” said McDowell, adding that he has been ironing some swing issues with coaches Kevin Kirk and Pete Cowen.

This year’s third edition of the Saudi International features a stellar cast including two reigning Major winners in Johnson (2020 Masters) and fellow American Bryson DeChambeau (2020 US Open), as well as European stalwarts such as 2020 Race To Dubai winner Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.

Malaysian No 1 Gavin Green is also in the field and will be looking to repeat his fine performance in last year’s event, when he finished joint third. Green tees off at 12 noon (5pm Malaysian time) in Thursday’s first round, off the 10th tee with South Africa’s Zander Lombard and Englishman Chris Paisley.

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