DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Frustrated, angry, exhausted. Graeme McDowell’s race to finish the year as Europe’s No.1 finally ran out of gas after the third round of the Dubai World Championship. He shot 69 and is 2 under par for the tournament, too far off the pace to make an impact in the Race to Dubai finale of the European Tour.
Playing five weeks in a row had taken its toll. McDowell was sniffling, coming down with a cold and honest enough to admit defeat.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “I’ve been playing on fumes. I just don't have a huge amount left in the tank. I don’t have the energy to be patient and to be digging deep. European No.1 is not a reality for me now. Unless I shoot 55 in the last round. I’m going to draw a line under it, drink a beer by the pool and look back on the greatest year of my career.”
It's been a year that has brought him two victories in Europe, the U.S. Open title at Pebble Beach and the clinching point at the Ryder Cup in Wales.
McDowell’s season came back to earth on the Earth course in Dubai. “The golf course hasn’t shown me much love,” he said. “It’s not really my cup of tea. Not my week. Gotta wave the white flag." After struggling to get his putter going on the front nine, he said frustration got the better of him. “I was just waiting for a taxi to get me out of there,” he said.
Next week he heads to California to play in the Chevron World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods. But don’t expect a stellar performance from the Northern Irishman. “If the intensity this week is 10 out of 10, next week will be a few cold beers every night.”
It’s safe to say McDowell is looking forward to a break but also looking forward to the next chapter of his fast-improving career. He said he has learned much about himself this year. “I now know I am good enough,” he said. “Trying to be the best player in the world two or three years ago seemed untouchable. But if I work hard for the next two or three years, being No.1 is something I truly believe I can achieve.”
McDowell has taken his game to another level in 2010, but he is still not immune to the same demons that haunt every weekend hacker. “This game frustrates me on a regular basis, to be honest,” he said. “Even when it’s going well, this game is never far away from frustrating.” You see, U.S. Open champions are just like the rest of us.