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I did it for my Dad says U.S. Open hero McDowell

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McDowell back to his roots
  • Graeme McDowell says the support of his family has proved invaluable in his golf career
  • McDowell won his first major with his U.S. Open triumph at Pebble Beach
  • McDowell's father Kenny was on hand to see him lift the famous trophy

(CNN) -- U.S. Open hero Graeme McDowell says the support of his family was the vital ingredient in his remarkable U.S. Open triumph at Pebble Beach.

McDowell's father Kenny made the trip to California for the second major of the season and golf's new superstar told CNN that he had made a special request ahead of the final round.

"You know he said to me 'Father's day is on Sunday son, and you know there's only one thing I want obviously', McDowell revealed.

Going into the last day three shots behind leader Dustin Johnson, the 30-year-old still had doubts he could deliver victory, especially with the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in contention.

But after Johnson imploded, McDowell took control of the tournament and a par on the final hole saw him secure a one-shot victory over Frenchman Gregory Havret.

As the final putt dropped, McDowell sought out his father to share a special moment.

Seeing him..and giving me a hug, he was crying..and it was one of the coolest moments of my life.
--Graeme McDowell

"It was pretty amazing," he recalls. "Seeing him..and giving me a hug, he was crying..and it was one of the coolest moments of my life. Definitely."

McDowell's formative years were spent at Rathbone Golf Club on the north coast of Northern Ireland, being coached by his uncle and playing for endless hours with his younger brother Gary.

It was there he realized it was "love at first sight with the game" which has brought him fame and fortune and now his first major title.

But even as a teenager, practicing with his brother, he dared to believe he could triumph at the highest level.

"I really always dreamt big you know," he said.

"I stood in putting green right behind us (At Rathbone G.C) there just dreaming of having two putts to win a major championship at some point.

"And to have that experience on Sunday past was pretty amazing," he added.

It was no surprise that McDowell flew home to be with friends and family in Portrush as soon as possible after his U.S. Open win, celebrating long into the night and in proud possession of the trophy.

"I've always loved coming back here. So many great people who've supported me throughout my career.

"To be able to bring a piece of silverware like this is a pretty proud moment."

While still in his teens, McDowell took the brave decision to leave behind his close family support network and study at the University of Alabama where he could develop his game in the U.S. college system.

It proved a pivotal moment and in his final year McDowell won the Haskins Award for the outstanding college golfer in America, having a lower stroke average than previous winners such as Tiger Woods.

"It really helped me make the transition from an 18-year old good amateur to a 22-year old professional golfer," said McDowell who won on only his fourth outing on the European Tour in 2002 to announce his arrival in the big-time almost immediately.

The intervening years have been a story of steady progress, with a Ryder Cup appearance in 2008 and the sixth of his European Tour victories at Celtic Manor just before his tilt at the U.S. Open.

But at Pebble Beach, life was about to change forever for McDowell, who led at halfway only for Johnson to charge to the fore on the third day with Woods lurking behind.

In brutally difficult conditions, McDowell carded a final round 74 to hold off Havret. He was the only player not over par after four days.

With his victory, celebrity has followed with appearances on famous U.S. chat shows and stream of media requests.

"I think it's been beyond my wildest dreams for sure.

"I was hoping to have a big summer, I wasn't quite thinking this would be around the corner but it's been pretty amazing," he admitted.

McDowell will be playing the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, a tournament he won in 2008, before attempting back to back majors in the British Open at St. Andrews.

On current form he might just double up, emulating the feat of a certain Tiger Woods, who achieved the Pebble Beach - St.Andrews double in 2000.