It was a win that was just like the good old days with the hot putter and unwavering mindset, now Graeme McDowell is back in the top 50 and wants one more major thrill

If you were to listen to certain people then players like Graeme McDowell will be extinct in the next few years. As more and more youngsters do everything in their powers for more and more miles per hour the emphasis is all about one thing.

This has never been the McDowell way. While he was in his pomp we watched him warm up on the range at Augusta and it was as revealing as it was depressing. Even to this untrained eye the whole ball flight was nothing like the soaring efforts of his countryman Rory McIlroy and the majority of others – and his results, six missed cuts in nine, reflected that.

Last season the Portrush star averaged 285 yards off the tee, the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and McIlroy were all up and above 310. In short, no pun intended, he’s playing a different game.

But with age comes wisdom and maturity and even at an early age McDowell has never been short of either. He teamed up with Kevin Kirk last August, just after his 40th birthday, and the American has improved his ball flight, practice, regime, and focus.

“He’s told me, ‘There’s absolutely no reason why the best golf of your career can’t still be ahead of you.’ It’s little things like that that have resonated with me.”

What any of the big boys would give is for a small slice of McDowell’s putting stroke and equally his capability to will the ball in the hole. Koepka, whose caddie Rickie Elliot also grew up in Portrush, said as much this week.

We’ve seen it at Ryder Cups and US Opens and all around the world and now we’re seeing it again. A year ago McDowell was outside the top 250 in the world, now he’s back inside the top 50.

“I always tell my kids we live in a nice house because daddy can putt,” McDowell explained on Saturday night. “That’s about the heart of it, really.

“I got it heated back up on the back nine and I’m going to have to putt well to have a chance,”

Last season McDowell was 4th for Strokes Gained on the Greens and top of the pile for Total Putting. Conversely for Strokes Gained Off the Tee he wasn’t even in the top 170 players.

In Saudi he did it the old-fashioned McDowell way, grinding his way to a 12-under winning score on a course which captured the players’, if not the spectators’, attention.

“It’s weird to win on a course where so many shots made me feel uncomfortable,” he said. “It was nearly major championship-esque in places in that you really had to be disciplined with your targets and play away from flags.

“There were a lot of tee shots which I didn’t like – 13, especially. Then 16, you couldn’t go near that flag. Hit a very conservative shot in there and tried to two-putt and get out of there, which I did well.

“No disrespect to this place but there were 15 people watching us. It didn’t have an intensity of a big, big, big tournament, even though the best players in the world are here.”

Like Lee Westwood, who sent his fellow vice-captain an encouraging text on Saturday night, there will be talk of another Ryder Cup appearance in September but, in the shorter term, McDowell wants to feel the thrill of the business end of the majors once more.

“My goal is to get back in the top 20 in the world and to be competing. I want another chance at a major championship on the back nine on a Sunday. It’s a lofty goal. There’s going to be a lot of steps between here and now but this really gives me the kick-on that I need.”

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