Graeme McDowell sees Wales Open as springboard

Defending the US Open in a fortnight's time is the big date coming up for Graeme McDowell, but first comes this week's Saab Wales Open - and he wants to win that again, too.

McDowell's name will always be associated with Celtic Manor for his Ryder Cup heroics last October. But it was over the same course that the greatest year of the Northern Irishman's life was kick-started four months earlier and now he is back looking for the same boost in confidence that he took away then.

Despite the presence of only three of his cup team-mates - Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez - McDowell is not one to downgrade the importance of the next four days.

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"There's no doubt that some tournaments create their own intensity level on the first tee on a Thursday morning and perhaps others don't," he said. "But that's the art of scheduling. I want to be up for every tournament I play in. I don't ever want to be at an event saying 'What am I doing here?' - that's a trap you never want to fall into. It's happened in the past. Every tournament counts in the world rankings and it's important you turn up every week wanting to play. Thankfully I have a great schedule. I haven't experienced any of that kind of stuff and I'm certainly not going to experience that this week. I'm excited to be back."

Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie and assistants Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn are in the field. So, too, is former Open champion John Daly, who missed the cut in the BMW PGA Championship before moving on to Wales for Monday evening's PowerPlay event, where he tied with McDowell - in last place.