After his offseason began earlier than expected, Graeme McDowell is eager to turn things around.
McDowell has been notably absent from the FedEx Cup Playoffs, missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2010. The Ulsterman began the year ranked No. 15 in the world, but following a disappointing campaign he will tee off this week at the Porsche European Open in Germany at No. 67 in the rankings.
McDowell's lone top-10 finish on the PGA Tour came at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November, and his only worldwide top-10 of the calendar year came in February at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where he tied for ninth. He showed a glimmer of resurgence last month at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he opened with 66 to take an early lead, but he finished T-17 and hasn't played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship five weeks ago.
"It's been a very average year," McDowell said. "Missing the playoffs has given me a chance to hit the reset button. I wanted to play a bit better at Firestone into Whistling (Straits), but I felt under pressure, playing with a gun to my head and needing it too much."
While his five-year exemption for winning the 2010 U.S. Open has expired, McDowell will still have full-time status next season on the PGA Tour thanks to his win at the 2013 RBC Heritage. For now, McDowell's focus will be in Europe as he looks to get his game back on track, position himself for the season-ending Race to Dubai and begin his quest for a spot on the European Ryder Cup team next fall at Hazeltine.
"I'm starting my 2016 campaign this week and my Ryder Cup campaign. I want to drive myself forward and get myself where I belong," he said. "Golf is a tough game sometimes, and it has felt more difficult for me this year than it has in the past. But it makes you appreciate the good times in the past and I'm looking forward to good times ahead."