Graeme McDowell played two holes at Firestone on Wednesday evening, mostly practicing shots around the greens. After he spent roughly 20 minutes (at least) hitting various chips and putts on the 18th, I caught him for a quick minute. “Is that shorter than a regular minute?” he joked. Well, not on my watch!
Naturally, I wanted to interrogate ask him about the bomb that his good friend Rory McIlroy dropped in his presser a few hours earlier — that he’s “leaning towards” taking up his PGA Tour card again next year.
McDowell said he’s known about Rory’s pending (which sounds definite to me) decision for a “couple of weeks, few weeks.” In McIlroy’s presser he revealed that his plans to possibly stay with G-Mac for a night at Lake Nona after the PGA Championship, but the Orlando area isn’t likely where McIlroy will end up buying a house.
“He said he’s going shopping around West Palm,” said McDowell. “I told him to swing by Orlando before.”
Rory’s agent and founder of sports management agency ISM, Chubby Chandler, has an office in West Palm Beach, so it doesn’t take a genius to figure that’s where Rory would likely choose for his new digs. (Not that this is relevant, but if I had to pick somewhere in Florida, that might be the only area I’d live. You know, there are just so many nice golf courses! I guess the beach and coast aren’t so bad, either.)
McDowell approves of McIlroy’s decision to return to play primarily in America.
“I think it’s good,” said G-Mac. “His game is very well-suited for this part of the world so it makes total sense.”
Indeed — McIlroy flies the ball high and long, which is the perfect recipe for success at most of the PGA Tour venues these days.
Meanwhile, McDowell, who missed the cut at the Open last month, brought along a new member of Team G-Mac for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Tristan Mullally, a teaching professional from Kildare, Ireland, is helping McDowell primarily with his short game. Though the two have known each other for ages — Tristan has footage of Graeme’s swing from 1998 when he was still in his school uniform! — this is their first time working together officially.
Recently, McDowell, a short game wizard, hasn’t been as sharp as he’d like to be around the greens. He’s also had somewhat of a ho-hum season so far. After three top-tens to kick off the year, his best finish is T14 at the US Open.
“Tristan’s just helping out with my short game a little bit,” said McDowell. “Just another pair of eyes. I’ve known him for a long time and he knows my game pretty well. It’s another way of explaining things and I’m just trying to simplify a little bit.”
Care to elaborate?
“It’s top secret sheit,” he deadpanned, pausing for a second before cracking up.