So two years after he stumbled exhausted and elated but mostly exhausted into the clubhouse at Celtic Manor Graeme McDowell is back in Ryder Cup mode. This is to say he is focused, serious and trying very hard to pull on what I understand they call a ‘game face’ these days.
When we had a chat at Medinah today I reminded him how utterly, emotionally and phusically spent he was at the end of all the shenanigans in Wales. I didn’t need to. Graeme remembers it quite well all by himself. “I was knackered, ” he said. “The Ryder Cup is crazy. I can play golf in front of 20,000 people and it’s no problem but if I have two team members watching me play this week then it is something else. I never felt as nervous as I did over those last half-dozen holes. I knew either me or Hunter Mahan was going to be a hero and the other was a villain. That’s the way it is.”
Does he want to do it again? Is he prepared to volunteer to be last man standing here in Chicago? Or would he – wisely, in my opinion, – view 2010 as a wonderful once in a lifetime experience and ask to be buried somewhere in the middle come Sunday? The answer is a sort-of yes and no and maybe. Mostly yes, however.
“I’ll say the same thing to Captain Olazabal on Saturday night that I said to the skippers in 2010 and 2008…’lay me where you want, boss’. If I’m needed to go out first that’s fine, if it’s last that is fine also because I’d quite like to experience all those feelings again. And if I’m required somewhere else then that is fine also, ” he said.
“What I know is that I certainly got more recognised for that putt at the Ryder Cup than I did for my US Open win. There’s no doubt about that. I think it was the first time in history that it had gone to the 12th singles match and it was fun to be able to do it and cool to be a part of. Part of me would love to get to do it again and part of me would hate it. That’s the fun I suppose.”
Meanwhile, Davis Love is doing everything he can to make this Ryder Cup a birdiefest. Having walked round half a dozen holes I can confirm there is little real rough, that the first cut extends way beyond where you’d expect. The US skipper is anxious to eliminate the chunk out into the fairway, eager also to entertain the spectators. “This is meant to be fun and watching these guys go for broke most times will make it that bit more enjoyable for the fans here and the millions watching on TV. It’s still a tough course without bad rough to help it,” he said.