Determined Graeme McDowell returns to defend Hilton Head title

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell will hope history repeats itself as he begins the defence of his RBC Heritage title on Thursdayat Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head.

Last year McDowell arrived in South Carolina on the back of missing the halfway cut at the Masters, but came from four shots behind in the final round before beating Webb Simpson in a play-off.

Twelve months on, the former US Open champion again suffered an early exit from the year’s first major championship after rounds of 72 and 78 at Augusta National.

“Last year’s win was great, but it means nothing now,” McDowell said. “Now we have to treat it like another event, prepare how we always do, execute our game plan and hope things go well.

“I’m looking forward to getting back and managing the expectations of a defending champion this year. I’m aware of the pitfalls and don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.

“The Hilton Head area has always been on my radar and I feel like I can win here. It’s a very nice course that tests every facet of the game, and it’s stood the test of time. I’m excited to be coming back.”

The European Tour is in the Far East this week for the Maybank Malaysian Open.

Michael Hoey is in the field alongside Shane Lowry, Simon Thornton and Damien McGrane.

Gareth Maybin is first reserve and needs a withdrawal to secure a starting place.