Graeme McDowell has revealed how a spot of retail therapy helped him win the 2010 US Open title at Pebble Beach.
The 31-year-old Ulsterman defends his Major crown at Congressional on Thursday when the local malls might well get a visit.
Second round leader McDowell didn’t tee-off until 3.50pm on the Saturday in California last year and was so nervous that he had to find something to kill the time before that late start.
“I ended up walking around a shopping mall and just doing some window shopping to try and take my mind off it,” admitted the world number eight from Portrush.
“The tee-time was so late that I had to triple check it online just to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. I was like, are you kidding me with ten to four?
“I was really nervous that day and the late tee-time didn’t help me. I had to find something to do and that’s how I ended up in a big mall.
“I wasn’t shopping. I was just wandering around aimlessly trying to take my mind off the golf.”
That mall visit steadied the McDowell nerves and the fact that he actually lost the lead to Dustin Johnson on the Saturday helped as well.
GMac added: “It was such a big day for me and I just wanted to get out there and play. I was leading the US Open and ended up in control of the tournament without hitting a ball for 28 hours.
“So that afternoon was huge, huge for me. In a way the Saturday was part of the reason why I felt I got the job done on the Sunday.
“I came through that Saturday experience, I coped with the nerves and the pressure and show a level par round which kept me in the tournament.
“Dustin Johnson went out and played immense, shot a 66 and took the lead which suited me. I threw the whole leading thing into his hands and it worked for me.
“It was weird because I felt so good going to the course on the Sunday. I felt so good with that Saturday experience out of the way. It had been and gone and I had survived it.
“That thought me a lot about myself. I felt like I was in control of myself, had a good warm-up on the Sunday morning and when Dustin threw the lead back at me after the first three holes I was ready for it.
“I was acclimatised to the course and to leading the US Open. Unlike Saturday, I was ready and I wasn’t at all nervous. Saturday taught me that I could handle all of this and win a major.”
McDowell isn’t looking forward to handing the US Open trophy back on Tuesday but he is ready to compete again at the highest level despite recent setbacks.
“It is very surreal when you are the person winning the US Open and when you sit back and listen to people describing you as the first European to win the US Open in 40 years etc, it kind of hits you hard,” he added.
“When they talk about the first Irishman to win the US Open and only the third Irishman to win a major, that’s when the reality of what I did really grabs me.
“Of course I want more of it and the last year has convinced me that I can compete for more of this and handle it.
“I will never go through the 12 months after a first Major win again. The last year has been a feather in my cap in terms of getting ready to be the best player I can be, accepting everything that goes with winning the best tournaments and being one of the best players in the world.
“I now feel like I’m ready to accept it. I feel I can do again when I tee off at Congressional on Thursday.”
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