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Graeme McDowell returns to Celtic Manor
June 1, 2011

U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell will return to the scene of his unforgettable Ryder Cup triumph when he defends his Wales Open title at Celtic Manor this week.

McDowell regained the Ryder Cup for Europe in dramatic fashion on the Twenty Ten course last October, securing the winning point in his singles match against United States player Hunter Mahan with a famous putt at the 16th.

It was last year’s win in the Wales Open and follow-up major breakthrough at Pebble Beach that got McDowell into the Europe team.

The 31-year-old Northern Irishman is without a win in 2011 and is looking for Celtic Manor to again turn his season around.

“Hopefully I can use this week as the same kind of catalyst as I did last year,” McDowell said. “Win or don’t win, hopefully I can try to kick on from here and have a great season.

“This time last year, I had achieved nothing and then the next six or eight months was like something I had never imagined. This is really a good place for me to tune back into the way I felt this time last year.”

McDowell, who carded rounds of 63 and 64 on the final two days to defeat local favorite Rhys Davies in last year’s tournament, is the highest-ranked player competing this week, at No.5 in the world.

Ryder Cup teammates Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez will all be present while Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke—vice-captains of the victorious European team—are also playing and bidding to follow up recent wins in Qatar and Mallorca respectively.

Colin Montgomerie, McDowell’s captain in the Ryder Cup, will be another player teeing off on Thursday, buoyed by his joint seventh-place finish at the PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday.

Montgomerie travels to Wales from Walton Heath, near London, where he failed on Monday to qualify for the U.S. Open, which takes place at Washington’s Congressional course from June 16-19.

Big-hitting American John Daly, making his first appearance in Wales, is also in the field for the tournament which has prize money of 1.8 million pounds ($3 million).

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