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G-Mac admits hitting 'rock bottom' in 2011

ESPN staff
March 24, 2012 « Woods feels at home in winning position | Chartbeat test »
Graeme McDowell charged up the leaderboard with a 63 on Friday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational © Getty Images
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Graeme McDowell admits he endured a "pretty awful" period last year, but says he has emerged as a stronger player having gone through that spell.

The Ulsterman concedes that golf "slipped down the priority list" in the wake of his triumph at the US Open in 2010, which increased his profile significantly and brought with it more media and sponsor opportunities.

The start of his drastic slump came at last year's Arnold Palmer Invitational, when he shot 80 in the first round and missed the cut. He says that not making the weekend at the Open Championship was the "really low point", and "rock bottom" arrived shortly after the US PGA Championship in August.

"My preparation for a golf tournament that's 20 minutes down the road for me [the Arnold Palmer Invitational] was just horrific [in 2011]," McDowell recalled. "I remember playing last in the pro-am on the Wednesday last year, and being on the range at 7:30 with my caddie just searching for a golf swing because I was off at 8 the next morning. I just wasn't ready.

"I think I had the week off before and there was no reason why I shouldn't have been prepared. But it was just a head space I was in. … Golf was kind of slipping down the priority list. The rest of the stuff that I was trying to take care of was getting in the way. And like I say, the panic button got flicked here last year and it took four or five months to get over that."

He achieved a measure of redemption by shooting a 63 on the second day of the Arnold Palmer on Friday, moving one shot behind joint leaders Tiger Woods and Charlie Wi.

"It was a pretty awful four or five months for me [but] I feel like you learn more from those types of experiences than you do from shooting 63 at Bay Hill," he said. "There's not much to learn out there except that if you play great and hole some putts, you can go low. But you learn a lot from days like 80s and just tough beats in your career.

"I guess I'll look back hopefully on those in 10, 15, 20 years' time where I got to grips with the spotlight and becoming a major champion and a top player in the world, because I want to be back there again, of course. I want to win more majors, and [go up] the world rankings, I want to be the best player I can be."

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