Can McDowell dump the slump?

first_imgPLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Graeme McDowell was lured to the OHL Classic at Mayakoba by the prospect of a clean slate. A fresh start, an opportunity to put a disastrous season behind him. A chance to rekindle his game and begin his charge back up the world rankings to the lofty perch he once occupied for so long. Through two rounds in Mexico he appears to have found all of that, but make no mistake – there is still work to be done. McDowell scorched El Camaleon on Friday, recording nine birdies en route to a 63, the lowest round of the week. At 12 under, he sits two shots clear of Si Woo Kim and appears in great position to capture his third PGA Tour win. The easy demeanor and confident smile McDowell currently carries have been a rare sight in recent months. More than a year removed from his last top-10 finish, the Ulsterman has watched his world ranking slide from No. 15 to begin the year to No. 85 entering this week. “I’ve had a spell here the last 18 months where making cuts has been hard, and getting into contention’s been difficult,” McDowell said. Things bottomed out for McDowell at the PGA Championship, where a missed cut ended his season before the FedEx Cup Playoffs began. The ball-striking, he explained, had been showing signs of a turnaround since the Scottish Open in July, but he was never able to capitalize on scoring opportunities. McDowell used the unexpected gap in his schedule to take a break from golf and take stock of the situation he had played his way into. OHL Classic at Mayakoba: Articles, photos and videos “About five weeks off I took after Whistling Straits, which was key for me,” McDowell said. “I needed to clear my head. I was under too much pressure. I was putting too much pressure on myself.” After returning to action in Europe, McDowell is now off to a strong start in Mexico – but the start has not been the difficult part of the equation this year. Time and again, he has flashed his form of old, only to falter over the weekend. McDowell opened with rounds of 67-65 this spring in Dubai, then failed to break 70 over the weekend. A similar script played out in Malaysia, where he finished T-36 despite an opening 66, and he was near the lead through three rounds of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational before closing with 73. Even as recently as two weeks ago, when he was in the mix at the halfway point of the Turkish Airlines Open with a chance to play his way into the Race to Dubai, McDowell closed with rounds of 73-75 to fade from contention. Amid a playing schedule that spans the globe, McDowell has only one sub-70 final-round score this year. One good round, even two good rounds, have been achievable goals. Stringing four straight together, though, has proved difficult. “The last few months, not staying in the present enough on the weekends, kind of getting a little excited and caring too much. Just kind of mistakes that I used to make 10 years ago when I was trying to learn how to win out here,” he said. “I’ve been going through kind of the processes of really getting there, messing it up a little bit, getting back there and playing a little better.” Another opportunity for improvement awaits this weekend, where wet conditions will lead to more low scores. McDowell appears to have his game in order, combining a red-hot putter with vintage ball-striking. After tinkering with a new driver earlier in the week, he put his old driver back in his bag for the second round and missed only two fairways. But scar tissue lingers from his recent miscues. McDowell asserts that this fortnight of fall golf, ending with next week’s RSM Classic, is an all-upside opportunity to get a head start on a new season. But he also built in some less rosy rationale, just in case he is unable to buck his recent performance trends. “This is not a last-chance saloon this weekend,” he said. Beyond the mechanics of his swing, McDowell believes the missing ingredient of late has been his frame of mind. The confidence and positive reinforcement that inherently accompany appearances on the leaderboard and trips to the winner’s circle have simply been non-existent. “Of course I would dearly love to be in the heat Sunday afternoon and have a chance to win here,” he said. “But like I say, I need to keep the attitude good this weekend, and I think I haven’t done that well the last few months.” McDowell sought an opportunity for redemption this week in Mexico, and after two strong performances that’s exactly what he has created for himself. But the toughest part of his journey back still lies ahead. It’s not assembling the various pieces – it’s keeping them together until the final putt drops.last_img read more

Deal defers access charge hike

first_imgcontrol period. The rest will be added to the company’s Regulatory Asset Base for CP4 starting on April 1 2009, and repaid out of future access charges. Winsor emphasised on March 10 that the reprofiling was conditional on the first issue of bonds under NR’s securitisation programme being completed by December 31 2004. Bookbuilding has already started for a £10bn bond issue. This Medium-Term Notes programme has been backed by a ’letter of comfort’ from the Department for Transport. Winsor also required SRA to relinquish its ’control’ over Network Rail policy which might have brought NR debts within the government’s Public Sector Borrowing Requirement. The relationship between Network Rail, SRA and the Regulator has been clarified by a letter from DfT (right). After the transitional period, fixed track access charges for the franchised Train Operating Companies will double from just under £900m to around £1·8bn a year with effect from April 1 2006. ORR has recalculated the access charges for each TOC to reflect investment and renewals work planned on each part of the network.SUBSTANTIAL increases in track access charges for use of the UK rail network have been deferred by two years, following an agreement between Network Rail and Rail Regulator Tom Winsor announced on March 10. Supported by the government, the deal means that around 60% of the company’s income over the next five years will be paid as direct grant by the Strategic Rail Authority.Access charges for the passenger franchises had been due to double fom April 1 under the terms of a new five-year regulatory Control Period 3. Following an interim review last year, Winsor increased the amount that Network Rail will be allowed to spend on maintenance and renewal of the infrastructure (RG 1.04 p8). However, the need to compensate operators for the sudden increase would have exceeded SRA’s budget. Under the latest compromise, track access charges will be held at current levels for the next two years. Deferring the increase will create a revenue shortfall of around £1·5bn a year, which NR will cover through a £3·1bn increase in borrowing. Of this, a third is to be paid back over the rest of the control period. The rest will be added to the company’s Regulatory Asset Base for CP4 starting on April 1 2009, and repaid out of future access charges. Winsor emphasised on March 10 that the reprofiling was conditional on the first issue of bonds under NR’s securitisation programme being completed by December 31 2004. Bookbuilding has already started for a £10bn bond issue. This Medium-Term Notes programme has been backed by a ’letter of comfort’ from the Department for Transport. Winsor also required SRA to relinquish its ’control’ over Network Rail policy which might have brought NR debts within the government’s Public Sector Borrowing Requirement. The relationship between Network Rail, SRA and the Regulator has been clarified by a letter from DfT (right). After the transitional period, fixed track access charges for the franchised Train Operating Companies will double from just under £900m to around £1·8bn a year with effect from April 1 2006. ORR has recalculated the access charges for each TOC to reflect investment and renewals work planned on each part of the network.Relationships clarified’The jurisdiction of the SRA is separate from that of the Rail Regulator. It neither overlaps nor competes with that of the Rail Regulator. The two authorities have common statutory purposes. They have separate and complementary jurisdictions. ’Apart from the accountability of its Board to its members, Network Rail’s principal accountabilities are to its train operator customers, under access contracts and the network code, and to the Rail Regulator under statute and the company’s network and station licences. The SRA monitors and enforces the consumer protection conditions of Network Rail’s licences. The Rail Regulator is independent of government, whereas the SRA is a non-departmental public body.’The Secretary of State attaches considerable importance to the independence of Network Rail, as a private-sector company limited by guarantee, which is accountable to its members and subject to independent economic regulation. He views as essential the commercial relationship between Network Rail and its customers, who are the operators of freight and passenger services. ’The fact that income is received in the form of grant will not affect in any way the independence of Network Rail or disturb the company’s contractual and commercial relationships. The payment of grant does not create any obligation on the part of Network Rail to the Strategic Rail Authority or any right on the part of the SRA to seek to direct or influence Network Rail.’ Letter from Department for Transport Permanent Secretary David Rowlands to Rail Regulator Tom Winsor, December 16 2003TABLE: Table I. Reprofiled Network Rail funding in CP3, úm at 2002-03 prices 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 TotalNet revenue requirement 4444 4413 4245 4203 4142 21448Fixed & variable charges 1203 1219 2132 2121 2284 8959Existing grants 1262 644 544 0 0 2450New grants 448 941 1569 2082 1858 6898Borrowing to cover shortfall 1532 1609 0 0 0 3141last_img read more