McDowell Hoping ‘New Attitude’ Working With New Coach Can Lead To Second Italian Open Success

Graeme McDowell is hoping a ‘new attitude’ in working with a new coach can lead to a second Italian Open victory title 15-years on from winning a then second Tour title in Milan.

McDowell has joined forces with highly-respected Houston-based, Kevin Kirk.

Kirk works with the likes of Masters champion, Patrick Reed and Jhonattan Vegas along with LPGA star, Lexi Thompson.

G Mac began working with Kirk in the second week of August.

Kevin Kirk is coach to Masters champion, Patrick Reed and now is coaching Graeme McDowell

“Kevin’s now been working with me for the past eight weeks, and I’ve been very excited with regards the direction we are going,” said McDowell.

“It has led to some renewed enthusiasm and while I have only played a couple of events under his guidance, I feel like I am playing very well.

“Kevin studied under Pete Cowan, so it’s not like it’s some new kind of crazy off-the-way variation on technique.  What he’s brought to my game is a new attitude and a more disciplined practice routine.

Houston-based coach, Kevin Kirk

“It is a bit more of a goal orientated practice, so the technique stuff is about being more organised with my practice.

“I am also trying to create more confidence and more belief in practice, and being able to take that onto the golf course.

“So, he’s been good.”

Fifteen years ago, McDowell defeated Frenchman Thomas Levet over a Monday morning in Milan after rain had badly affected play in the 2004 Italian Open.

The event was reduced to 54-holes and with McDowell defeating Levet in a play-off to not only capture the Euro 200,000 first prize cheque for a second of now 10 European Tour wins but also a 20cm high, 40 cm wide and near 40 kg ‘wheel’ of Parmesan Cheese.

It led at the time to an Italian journalist covering that 2004 event to remark:  “Graeme now has enough Parmesan Cheese for 25-years of Spaghetti Bolognaise.”

Joining McDowell in Rome is fellow Major Champions, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry and one can bet the trio will be keeping close company off-course this week.

Both McDowell and more so, Lowry are desperate to qualify automatically for Harrington’s 2020 European Ryder Cup team, and with McDowell on record as stating he knows he will be at Whistling Straits ‘one way or another’.

That would mean, and if he does not qualify for the team, a second straight vice-captaincy role.

Lowry’s main focus will be regaining the Race to Dubai lead in the absence of Jon Rahm, and with Rahm storming clear of Lowry in successfully defending last week’s Spanish Open.

Lowry finds himself grouped for the opening two rounds of the $US 7m event with 2018 Open Champion and standout local hero, Francesco Molinari along with England’s Matt Walllace.

IRISH TEE TIMES (Irish time) …

7.10am – Graeme McDowell

7.30am – Shane Lowry

8am – Paul Dunne

12.20pm – Padraig Harrington



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