Graeme McDowell isn't quite in the same league as fellow Irish golf pro Padraig Harrington yet (Harrington has three major championships in the bag) but as he's proved this week you'd be foolish to count McDowell out now.
His win at Valderrama on Sunday has catapulted him into the big leagues and if he doesn't quite rival Harrington just yet it surely can't be long before he's the other big golfing news out of Ireland.
McDowell really proved his mettle at Pebble Beach last June when he faced off against the titans of the game like Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and the top of international golf to win the US Open.
His growing confidence is self-evident, as is his growing ease at becoming an increasing presence at golfing top tier.
First there was his Wales Open win in June, which was swiftly followed by his extraordinary breakthrough at the US Open. After that he seemed in his element in the role of Ryder Cup hero at Celtic Manor.
“It really has been a special season and I couldn’t imagine it would have gone the way it has,” said McDowell, with characteristic understatement.
The truth is he's built up an epic, breakthrough year. But he's learned to keep everything cool and in perspective.
"It's very important to prioritize, to not get sucked into playing too much golf around the world and not beating myself up too much," McDowell told the press. "My scheduling is going to be very, very important to me next year. I'm looking forward to the 2011 season and look to get involved in the FedEx Cup playoffs and really get a feel for that."
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