The Masters may be over for another year, but the PGA Tour season roles on to South Carolina this week where Graeme McDowell will look to defend his RBC Heritage title at Hilton Head Golf Links. 

The Northern Irishman missed the cut at Augusta last weekend - the fourth time he has done so in his last five outings in Georgia, where he was evidently struggled throughout his career. 

Last year, though, he put that disappointment to one side as he went on to win the following week in Harbour Town; his only win on the PGA Tour in 2013. 

With the Ryder Cup now shifting into focus as ranking points become gold dust, a good finish for McDowell this week is essential as he stakes his claim to be part of Paul McGinley's plans this autumn. 

"It's nice to be defending my first authentic PGA Tour victory," he told reporters, after his US Open win in 2010 was followed by victory at Tiger Woods' Chevron World Challenge the same year, an event with a select field of players. 

"Hilton Head's a great place to come after last week. It feels like Spring Break after last week's exam at Augusta. It's a nice place to come and decompress, away from the pressures of the first major championship of the year."

Despite McDowell's expertise around the greens, his length off the tee is incomparable to some of the Tour's biggest hitters putting him at a disadvantage at Augusta. 

That will not be a problem for him in South Carolina this week, as he admitted the Harbour Town Golf Links suited him far better than last week's test. 

"This course suits me a little bit more than last weeks. It's great to be back," he added

"It was a tough morning out there [this morning]. It was quite like the Sunday of last year, a real tough, breezy day - I spent the first nine holes just trying to keep warm because it was absolutely freezing."

The former US Open champion - who was not entirely in contention until six holes of last year's tournament to play - also admitted he's struggled with his iron game since triumphing over Webb Simpson in last year's playoff. 

"I played really controlled golf here last year. I flighted my irons well, something I probably haven't done as well since last year," McDowell concluded. 

Other Europeans in the field this week include the man who sunk the winning putt at Medinah, Martin Kaymer, 2006 Ryder Cup hero Paul Casey, Sweden's Carl Petterson, Englishman Luke Donald as well as Scot's Martin Laird, Stephen Gallacher and Russell Knox.

Young English amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick, who narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th at Augusta last Friday that would have ensured he made the cut, will also tee it up in South Carolina.  

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#Luke Donald
#Graeme McDowell
#Ryder Cup
#Golf