Teary McDowell Talks Down Ryder Cup Captaincy Chances
From the outside it seemed that Graeme McDowell was always likely to be the European team captain at the 2027 Ryder Cup at Adare Manor.
McDowell played on four teams, three of them winning ones, and he contributed an impressive nine points from his 15 matches. His undoubted highlight was when he holed that putt at the 16th hole at Celtic Manor before shaking hands and securing the trophy for Colin Montgomerie's side in 2010.
In the pre LIV Golf days the accepted wisdom was that Lee Westwood would get this year's Rome gig before handing on to Ian Poulter at Bethpage before McDowell took the reins in Ireland. But then Westwood said that he was keen to try and make the team in Italy, perhaps in the knowledge of what was to come, and Henrik Stenson and then Luke Donald took over the captaincy.
All of which nudged McDowell's thinking that he might not be the skipper in Ireland and that LIV might be the best way forward.
"Would I love to be the Ryder Cup captain in Ireland in '27? I picture myself standing there on the stage giving the opening speech looking at my team behind me. I mean, beautiful. You know, I've got a tear in my eye just thinking about it. But that wasn't a guarantee, it wasn't a given," the 43-year-old told the 5 Clubs podcast with Gary Williams.
"I was potentially gonna be against Westwood and Justin Rose for that Ryder Cup. Say LIV hadn't come along, [Westwood] would have turned Rome down so now he was looking at '27 because Poulter was gonna take '25 at Bethpage Black.
"He (Poulter) said that eight years ago and wanted to get into a fight with Mickelson on the stage in New York City. I mean I haven't really thought about it, that may be one of the most fundamental things that may come out of this thing that we don't get to see Phil versus Poulter in 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 was vice-captain at the last two matches, under Thomas Bjorn in Paris and then Padraig Harrington at Whistling Straits, and he seemed to the ideal type of character for the main job. But now all that seems unlikely to take place and McDowell's future is with LIV.
"These two or three things we're talking about were the things that kept me awake at night as to whether I thought I was making the right decision or not. Are my chances greatly reduced now of ever being a part of a Ryder Cup team in any level? Yeah, of course they're greatly reduced. It was a difficult one, and if I'm old and grey and 75-years-old and I look back and I never had the shot, I never captained a European team I will be incredibly disappointed," he said.
"I balanced all these things up, I weighed all these things up. It was a complex equation and at the end of the day, I had to look through the short-term lens. I had TV deals kind of knocking on my door, I wasn't ready for that. I wasn't ready to hang the clubs up and I had to have that conversation."
On the upside McDowell still likes his chances of winning this season and he will kick off his year at Mayakoba, a course where he has won in the past.
"Contrary to what anyone thinks, I'm not showing up at 14 LIV events this year, taking my pay check and going home. I still believe that I'm good enough, I still believe that I can win golf tournaments. I still believe that I can compete at any level. And that's the competitor inside of me."