Graeme McDowell says that he is still coming to terms with his success of the last year having claimed the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup. He insists that that he has kept his feet on the ground despite being one of the worlds most high-profile player.
The Northern Irish players says that his upbringing has a lot to do with this. He said “I came from a humble upbringing, two working-class parents who worked their butts off to give me everything I wanted growing up," McDowell said speaking to the Daily Telegraph
"We lived in a terraced house on a council estate, plenty of stuff to do, an outdoors kind of existence. Picked up a golf club at eight years old and spent every waking hour on a great little nine-hole par-three course.
"I fell for the game hard but when I think about the major winners at Pebble Beech, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger, I don't feel my name belongs there. It is a surreal feeling to put yourself at that level. It is hard to get your head around."
McDowell also believes that his success is due to accepting a position to play golf in the U.S.
He said “I grew a lot as a person, put on a stone eating - and drinking beer…I was spending time around guys brought up to be winners. We are much more humble people in Northern Ireland, understated.
"All of a sudden I was thrust into this American lifestyle where everyone seemed brash and cocky and wanted to be winners. That did a lot for me. I came back that first summer and won pretty much everything in Ireland, got myself in the Walker Cup team and by the third year was No 1 college player in the States.
"If I hadn't gone over there would I be sitting where I am now? I kind of think I wouldn't. I believe everybody is probably capable of great things but not everyone gets the opportunity, or finds something they are passionate about.
"I was pretty average at most things. I'm not the kind of guy who can pick up a tennis racket and start whipping forehands over the net. Luckily I got the golf bug early."
This summer McDowell sealed Europe’s victory at the Ryder Cup. He won over Hunter Mahan in the final singles. He admits that it was pressure like he had never experienced, even in the U.S. Open.
He said “I was four or five under through nine, a couple of shots up. Hunter missed a couple of chances. I hit it over the back at the 10th. There was a huge board there. I looked up and none of the games were close. We were either down massively or up. It was obvious what was going on. I made a quick calculation and thought 'here we go'. I knew it was going to be tight, potentially it was coming down to my match.
"From that second I started getting nervous. It was incredibly surreal out there. In the early part of the round there was no one on the golf course with us, a couple of hundred watching our match, maximum. After playing in front of 20,000 all week it felt weird. Round about the 13th it started getting busy. A few of my team-mates started dropping back. Then Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker arrived, making their presence felt at the 14th tee box. From there on in it was beyond anything I have ever known."
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore