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Graeme McDowell watches a shot during a LIV Golf event last year.
LIV player Graeme McDowell joined Gary Williams’ Five Clubs Podcast and called the last 12 months “interesting,” said he’s learned he can be sensitive to criticism and that there are some things he said regarding LIV Golf he wishes he could take back.
McDowell also explained some of the inner-workings of the European Ryder Cup team, which he said played a role in his signing with LIV Golf last year.
His form at the time also led to him joining the Saudi-backed league, he said. McDowell, who is now 43, said he was playing pretty well in 2020 but hit a wall.
“Honestly, I played 18 months of the worst golf I have probably my whole career right after Covid,” he said. “There are no guarantees in this sport. When something came along and offered me nothing but upside, it was a very compelling opportunity at that point in my career.”
McDowell said he talked with several people close to him before making his decision, but ultimately called it a great financial and scheduling opportunity for the father of three.
Asked if it was hard to walk away from television analyst opportunities or a potential Ryder Cup captaincy, McDowell said nothing is guaranteed. The Irishman played in four Ryder Cups in his career (8-5-2 all time) and was a potential candidate for an upcoming captaincy. The 2027 Ryder Cup, scheduled for Adare Manor, would have been a home game for him.
“I had to reason with myself and say, ‘Would I love to be the Ryder Cup captain in Ireland in ’27, picture myself standing there on the stage giving the opening speech, looking at my team behind me?’ Beautiful,” he said. “I got a tear in my eye just thinking about it. But that wasn’t a guarantee; that wasn’t a given.”
McDowell said he didn’t think he was a lock for the 2027 captaincy, though. Lee Westwood, who went to LIV Golf, and Justin Rose also would have been options.
“Let’s say LIV hadn’t come along. [Westwood] would have turned Rome [in 2023] down, so now he was looking at ’27 because [Ian] Poulter was going to take ’25 at Bethpage Black,” McDowell said. “He said that eight years ago and wanted to get into a fight with Mickelson on the stage in New York City. [Laughs] I haven’t really thought about it. That may be one of the most fundamental things that may come out of this whole thing that we don’t get to see Phil versus Poulter at Bethpage Black. You know, that probably won’t happen now. … Westwood is one of the most decorated European Tour players of all time. … So I’m going against him and I’m thinking, ‘I’m not sure I’m necessarily winning this job,’ you know, so this is the type of reasoning that I had to go through in my head.”
McDowell said the Ryder Cup captaincy was one of the two or three things that kept him up at night as he struggled to decide if he made the correct decision or not. But he also said he weighed everything and thought through all the scenarios.
“Are my chances greatly reduced now of ever being a part of a Ryder Cup team at any kind of level? Yeah, of course they’re greatly reduced,” he said. “Listen, it was a difficult one, and if I’m old and gray and 75 years old and I never had a shot and never captained a European team, I’d be incredibly disappointed.”
Also in the podcast, McDowell admitted he’d said some things he’d like to take back, likely referring to his “we are not politicians” comments at the league’s opening event at Centurion Club, for which he was criticized.
“I’ve said some things I’d like to take back,” he said. “Did I say them because they were the wrong things to say? No, I said them because I was trying to answer questions that when I look back were incredibly difficult to answer, impossible to answer, in fact, to the point where I shouldn’t have even tried. … I wouldn’t have changed any of my answers, I just would have said nothing.”
You can listen to McDowell’s complete appearance on Five Clubs here.
Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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