Graeme McDowell’s in a good place now, both in the micro sense — in second place on the leaderboard of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral — and the macro sense.
McDowell shot a 5-under-par 67 on Friday and is 11-under, two shots behind leader Tiger Woods. The 33-year-old from Northern Ireland will be paired with Woods in the third round.
“I’m feeling generally quite calm and patient inside,” McDowell said. “I don’t feel like I’m forcing the issue too much. I guess I’ve kind of found a state of mind at Tiger’s event last year where I felt … there’ve been moments in my career where I’ve felt very under control and calm emotionally. I find that’s the best place for me when I’m playing great golf.”
Part of that might be the effects of taking about 10 weeks off. McDowell also has gotten engaged, moved to Orlando with his fiancée and will be opening a restaurant soon.
“I think it’s nice to have nice positive influences off the golf course to keep you occupied,” he said. “I’ve got some good stuff going on in my life, which helps relax and take mind off golf on the weeks off.”
The reason for moving his main home to Orlando seemed fairly obvious.
“Because the sun shines here more often than it does in Northern Ireland,” he said to EuroSport. “Also, it’s a very good place to be professionally.
“Orlando has a good airport, so I can get to tournaments on both continents easily.”
Bubba’s good enough
Bubba Watson’s a 34-year-old Masters champion. He finished second at the WGC-Cadillac Championship last year against one of the best fields you’ll find outside of a major.
But Watson doesn’t feel like a player of that status in a group with Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker, as he was Thursday and Friday at Doral.
“I still think of myself as a young kid,” Watson said. “You’re playing with the greats of the game. You’re watching Phil with maybe the best short game this tour’s ever seen. You’re watching mid-irons, long irons of Stricker, probably the best we’ve seen, and he can putt better than anybody.
“When you’re watching them, you’re trying to learn from them and, hopefully, produce that down the road somewhere.”
As for what they might learn from Watson?
“Not much. That I’m goofy,” he said. “I don’t think they pay attention to me because I play it so different than they do.”
Watson’s game certainly was good enough the first two rounds. He shot 69 Friday and is tied for fifth at 9-under. Mickelson and Stricker each sot 67 Friday and are tied for third at 10-under.
It was another Sergio Garcia type first two days at Doral for Sergio Garcia.
Garcia began the second round at 6-under and tied for the lead. He finished in the same place – 6-under. An even-par round on a day where conditions were just as favorable as they were during Thursday’s first round simply pushes you down the leaderboard.
“Played great [Thursday], played quite poorly [Friday],” Garcia said. “Funny enough, it’s the way I’ve been playing this course throughout the years.
“I have one or two really good rounds, then I have a couple of bad ones. I wasn’t really on my game at all. I got fortunate enough to get it back to level par.”
Garcia said he couldn’t point to anything about Doral that does this to him. Since finishing tied for third in 2007, his finishes at Doral have gotten worse each year: 15th, 31st, 37th and 60th.
How often does the Friday leader turn into the Sunday winner at Doral? Depends on how far back you track it.
The 2011 and 2012 second-round leaders, Hunter Mahan and Watson, respectively, watched Nick Watney (2011) and Justin Rose (2012) take home the big check. But from 2006 to 2010, Tiger Woods (twice), Geoff Ogilvy, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els each sat atop the leaderboard after Round 2 and went on to win the tournament.