FORMER US Open champion Graeme McDowell has admitted wrestling with thoughts of premature retirement as he prepares to begin his tilt at winning the Major for a second time today.
McDowell, 35, who triumphed at Pebble Beach five years ago, revealed he has considered his golfing future amid wavering form – no top-25 finishes in his last dozen events – and greater family commitments.
“I haven’t enjoyed the season, not scoring well; losing a little of confidence and belief; thinking am I done, finished, washed up? Should I think about getting a new job?” said the Northern Irishman, who has fallen to 44th in the rankings.
“It’s hard. But I feel like I’m learning a lot from it. Something I’ve done well in my career to this point is reacting well to the tough years and coming out the other side better and stronger and smarter.
“That’s what I’m kind of in right now, I’m in that learning curve and looking forward to being back on the leaderboard very soon.”
Defending champion Martin Kaymer, meanwhile, is relishing being out of the spotlight for the tournament, taking place at the distinctive Chambers Bay course in the north-west of the United States.
Kaymer romped to an eight-shot win at Pinehurst last year but has found his claims this time overshadowed by those of Masters winner Jordan Spieth, fellow young gun Rickie Fowler and world No1 Rory McIlroy.
“A lot of times I’m under the radar, I feel like, which is fine,” the German world No19 said.
“Those other guys are all four or five years younger than me, so they should get the credit for what they have achieved. My win was already 12 months ago. So I think what they’ve done more recently is more important than my win last year.”
KEY TEE TIMES (BST)
▀ 3:33pm: Mickelson; Watson; Cabrera
▀ 4:17pm: Stenson; F Molinari; Snedeker
▀ 4:28pm: Furyk; Jimenez; Montgomerie
▀ 10:17pm: Spieth; Day; Rose
▀ 10:28pm: Woods; Fowler; Oosthuizen
▀ 4:06pm Matsuyama; McDowell; Kuchar
▀ 4:17pm: D Johnson; Scott; Garcia
▀ 4:28pm: Kaymer; Gunn; McIlroy
▀ 10:17pm: Horschel; Casey; Westwood