Graeme McDowell outlined a renewed commitment to the game and some ambitious career targets after making an ideal start to the defence of his Volvo World Match Play Championship title.
McDowell, who fought back from three down to beat Jordan Spieth in the opening singles match in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles last month, was again in the first match out yesterday but was never in trouble against Alexander Levy, who won the Portugal Masters on Sunday.
Four birdies in the first six holes helped McDowell into a comfortable lead and although Levy kept his hopes alive with a birdie to win the 13th, McDowell crucially matched another birdie from his opponent on the 15th before completing a 3&2 victory.
McDowell successfully defended the French Open earlier this season and won all three of his matches at Gleneagles, but admitted he had not been fully focused in recent times after getting married last year and becoming a father for the first time in August.
“I think you’re seeing a turnaround in my commitment level to the game,” said the 35-year-old, who won the US Open in 2010.
“For two years I haven’t been as focused, but for all the right reasons. Getting married and having a baby are special times in the life of anyone. I realise that I want to win more majors and more tournaments around the world and I’m more focused now than I have been in a long time.”
McDowell’s Ryder Cup partner Victor Dubuisson enjoyed a 3&2 win over Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal at The London Club. but there were defeats for Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher.