Graeme McDowell Exclusive: Beware the old Tiger trap, Rory!
21:30 GMT, 21 September 2012
Ryder roar: McDowell celebrates at Celtic Manor
Two years ago he big brothered him at Celtic Manor. Now, on the eve of another Ryder Cup, Graeme McDowell has just one piece of advice for his great pal Rory McIlroy – don't fall into the trap that ensnared Tiger Woods.
'I always think the Ryder Cup is an interesting one for those guys at that level who spend their year conjuring up plans for world domination, and this year Rory has executed his very well,' said McDowell.
'It's not the expectation that gives them a problem. We see every week how well they cope with expectation. But how do you suddenly switch into team mode That is the difficult one for them, and I think Tiger struggled with that for a while.
'I'm sure Rory will manage it. He manages everything. But if there's one area where I feel I can help him this time, it is in making that adjustment.'
Hair we go: McDowell brothered McIlroy at Celtic Manor
It is a typically thoughtful response from G-Mac, who will have no problem making the adjustment himself. Scarcely had he finished holing the winning putt at the last match than he was circling the date for this one.
In his head, he's already got Europe's line-up for the opening morning's foursomes mapped out.
He said: 'One of the great things we've got going for us this year is we have a few tried and trusted partnerships, and they've all got a charisma that I think will help in terms of offsetting the hostility of the crowd.
Centre of attention: McDowell's win over Mahan in 2010 has gone down in legend
'Guys like Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald, myself and Rory. Poults Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, and Lee Westwood and maybe Paul Lawrie.
'These are guys who are used to the environment, and won't be intimidated by it.
'At the US PGA Championship recently we had a meeting and talked briefly about Brookline in 1999. I was talking to Paul who was a rookie that year and playing with Monty, and he was telling me about the dog's abuse Monty got. But it's different now, with so many of our players living over here. Sure it will be a cauldron, who'd want it any other way But it won't be a nasty one.'
Lest anyone should think McDowell is overlooking the other four members of his team, he added: 'They might turn out to be our key players because they could get underestimated.
Playing away: McDowell will make up the European team who travel to Medinah
'It's only natural if you drew, say, Frankie Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts in the fourballs to think that might be better than drawing what is perceived as a more glamorous pair. But who'd want to play against Nicolas in fourballs, someone who hits it miles and makes a ton of birdies'
McDowell's contribution to the last victory two years ago has gone down as the stuff of legend, of course. With Europe struggling in the singles, it all came down to his match against Hunter Mahan.
'It's amazing to think you practise all your life to put yourself in that position and then when it actually happens you feel so uncomfortable it is terrifying,' said McDowell.
'My abiding memory of that match I remember counting down the holes and just hoping it would be over soon and that we would have the right result.
'You try hard to enjoy it but that all comes in the aftermath. At the time you're just relying on instinct and belief in yourself to see you through.' Given all that, would he like to play last man out again
'Absolutely. I'd love the responsibility. I'd have that peace of mind of knowing I can do it. Would I pull it off Someone might shoot 64 on me.
'I don't see myself playing near the top of the order in the singles. You leave that to the most charismatic members of the team, like Westy and Sergio and maybe Rory. I see myself as a plodding kind who can beat anyone on his day and grind out a point for the cause. So yes, it might come down to my match again. And if it does, I'll be ready.
'I'm sure Poults is like me in that he leaves the Ryder Cup wishing he could bottle the intensity he feels that week. We're probably guys who need to play at an eight out of 10 intensity to operate at our best but all too often on a Thursday at a strokeplay event we're probably just a five or a six.
'At the Ryder Cup, of course, the lowest you're operating on is eight. Talking to you now, I can feel the buzz of it in my brain. It switches me on.'