Graeme McDowell talks Majors, being a dad and juggling his schedule

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He’s a Major champ, a Ryder Cup superstar, a member of both the European and PGA tours, and a new dad (daughter Vale Esme was born in September). We caught up with GMac ahead of the 2015 season.

Q How are you feeling?
I’m feeling fresh and things are certainly good in my life off the golf course, which I feel is giving me the mental space and mental energy to remotivate and refocus myself on my game and concentrate on the next four or five years.  

Q You’re now married, and a dad...
A couple of life‑changing experiences! But still being able to play the kind of golf that I’ve been playing bodes well going into the next five to 10 years. Obviously I enjoy my home time much more than I ever did. I’m much more settled than I ever was, and when I do go home, it gives you such a different perspective away from the game and allows you to switch off a lot more. So you’re certainly fresher mentally when you do come back out. 

Q How do you find splitting your schedule between Europe and the US?
It’s a long year when you’re carrying both cards. There’s a lot of golf to play. You can’t play less than 26, 27 times. My schedule has not changed much the last few years because I’m playing the minimums that I can play on both sides of the Atlantic, and trying to balance that with staying competitive until the day when the wife tells me to start playing 35, 40 events a year when she gets fed up with me! 

Q How much did you enjoy the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles?
I felt like I gained a lot of confidence. Maybe not in the way I played, but in the way I handled myself. You never really see yourself as an experienced player until the day you realise that you’re able to go and enjoy an experience like that and not be as intimidated as you were in the past. Partnering a rookie and taking that leadership role in the team room, leading the team out on Sunday, is a position I wasn’t familiar with. But it was great to get the job done. It was personally very satisfying and I felt like I gained a lot of belief from that week. 

Q What do you think of this year’s Major Championship venues?
Chambers Bay (US Open) is an unknown quantity, but it sounds like a pure links. I’m very excited about the prospect of two-and-a-half links Major golf courses in the summer; I call Whistling Straits (US PGA) half a links course, because I don’t remember it playing like a pure links when I played there. When I analyse my results around St Andrews, I competed pretty well in both Opens I’ve played there and had good success at the Dunhill Links, so St Andrews is a course I can get around as well. And Augusta is a Rubik’s Cube that I’m still trying to solve, but looking forward to the challenge again this year.  

Q What would be a good year for you?
Last year was an incredibly consistent and solid year, without having too many highlights. So I’m just looking for those three or four strong weeks in the big tournaments to turn a good year into a great year. I’m focused on the Majors. My performances in the Majors the last two years have been fractionally disappointing.