Graeme McDowell reluctantly turned down one invitation this week in the goal of earning a Master’s invitation with victory at this week’s Valero Texas Open.
McDowell and his wife, Kristin had been invited to be guests this Saturday at the wedding in Ireland of Rory McIlroy and his new wife, Erica.
However, the McDowell’s had been forced to politely decline given McDowell needs to regain best man winning form at this week’s $US 6.2m event at TPC San Antonio.
McDowell is the lone Irishman in the Texas field headed by the Lone Star State born duo of Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed.
Skipping the event also is double Major winning, Jordan Spieth and with the Dallas native possibly one of the many golfers set to be present at McIlroy’s glittering Ashford Castle wedding.
McDowell, who will tee off at 6.10m Irish time later today, picked up three places and moving to No. 83 on the World Rankings after his top-30 finish last week at Hilton Head.
But it has now been two months short of two years since McDowell was last inside the world’s top-50 and the assurance of a start in all four Majors.
He did not qualify for the Masters and while he is into the US Open as a past champion, he is not exempt into The Open at Royal Birkdale in July.
“I explained to Rory, and he very much understood, that I just need to be playing at the moment and that’s the reason for entering this week’s event in San Antonio,” he said.
“And if it gets me an invitation into next year’s Masters that would be fantastic.
“I am just hoping I can get the putter working this week at it could have been anything last week had half of those putts I only just missed dropped.
“So, the good thing is I am trending in the right direction and overall the golf is in good shape.”
McDowell is contesting the Valero Texas Open for a first time since being forced out during the first round of the 2015 event after straining tendons in his left ankle while practicing earlier that week.
And McDowell has praised fellow Irishman Paul Dunne following his efforts in going so close to victory at last week’s Hassan 11 Trophy in Morocco.
Dunne lost out at the first extra play-off hole but with the effort seeing him jump 72 places to the new World No. 156.
“Paul seems like a very talented golfer and we saw at The Open a few years ago he is a big-time player, and while he would have been disappointed not to have won out in Morocco, his result still would have taken a lot of pressure of his shoulders in terms of his status on the Tour,” said McDowell.
“So, he will grow in confidence following that effort but then is it hard when you do step-up into the big league because it doesn’t matter how big your amateur was, if you do start getting your confidence knocked a little bit it is hard to get any momentum.
“But a great week like he had last week at the Hassan will be big for Paul going forward.”
In fact, Dunne has travelled straight to China to tee-up also as the lone Irishman in Shenzhen International.