Graeme McDowell: NI golfer reveals PGA Championship pull-out was due to Bahamas hurricane

Graeme McDowell
McDowell is very keen to play for Europe in the next Ryder Cup

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell says he pulled out of last weekend's PGA Championship at Wentworth because of the hurricane that hit the Bahamas.

McDowell, who has a house on one of the many Caribbean islands that make up the country, says withdrawing from Wentworth "was tough to do but it has been an emotional few weeks".

"Friends and people that we care about just lost everything," he added.

"It put things in perspective for me from a golf point of view."

The Bahamas were left devastated at the start of September after Hurricane Dorian and Tropical Storm Humberto hit the area.

"Trying to help people took a lot of focus off what I was doing," added McDowell.

"I didn't get to practice and prepare as much as I would have wanted, from working on our place and trying to help people down there.

"People that we care about, people who are really good friends, their homes just got flattened.

"They're now trying to get their lives back.

The Bahamas
Hurricane Dorian and Storm Humberto hit the Bahamas at the start of September

"We've been trying to help with some fundraising efforts and we've been trying to rebuild. Mother Nature puts life in perspective with how cruel it can be."

McDowell withdrew from Wentworth a week before the tournament in England, citing "a personal issue" in a statement on his Twitter account.

"It has been really scary and my mind just hasn't been on golf," said the 40-year-old.

"Consequently, I just didn't feel that I was ready to play at Wentworth. It's been a very difficult few weeks and I'm looking forward to getting back on the golf course, refocusing and taking the next steps."

Feeling fresh

The Portrush native added: "I started working with a new coach, Kevin Kirk, about a month ago.

"He's based in Houston and I like what I'm working on. Having someone US-based is really important to me.

"My coach has been based in the UK for a long time, but now I'm spending so much time in the States that it will help me get that consistency.

"Kevin gives me a fresh look and a fresh enthusiasm on things, and I'm really excited about the relationship so it should be a lot of fun. I've got a lot to look forward to - let's see if I can finish the year off strongly."

Ryder Cup 'is a special event'

The 2010 US Open champion also explained that a major aim of his is to play in the Ryder Cup next year.

"I believe I'm still good enough to win out here," he said.

"Playing for Padraig (Harrington) at Whistling Straights is my big goal for the next 12 months. I'm laying out my schedule to give myself the best possible shot to be on the team.

"If I play the way I know I can play then I can be on the team."

Graeme McDowell
McDowell played in four Ryder Cups before being selected as Thomas Bjorn's vice-captain at the 2018 event in Paris

McDowell was vice-captain under Thomas Bjorn at the last Ryder Cup in Europe's win over the USA in Paris, but feels he still has more to offer as a player.

"The Ryder Cup is something that I cherish and my experiences have been the best of my career. I would love to play at least one more.

"You've two rookies in Shane Lowry and Viktor Hovland who you'd say will be very close to the team.

"The spots are starting to disappear as we speak, it's a changing of the guard. I'm just hoping I'm not too old. I would love to be part of the team as it's such a special event."