When Graeme McDowell Finally Won Again
UNSURPRISINGLY, most of the world’s leading players are at home licking their wounds after the US Open at Winged Foot, so the quaintly-named Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship provides an opportunity for some of the PGA Tour’s lesser lights to earn some money and, for the winner, full exemption status.
When Graeme McDowell arrived in the Dominican Republic last year he was on the crest of a slump, tumbling down the world rankings and wondering where his next win was going to come from. He would have taken any win and everything finally fell back into place on that week.
McDowell had an added incentive for doing well - he wanted to qualify for The Open at Royal Portrush. This was a former US Open champion who had once been in the top 10 in the world rankings but he came to Punta Cana with no form to speak of. And on the final day he shot a three-under-par 69 to beat Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes to secure his fourth PGA Tour win.
“I said that I was here on a mission, I was here motivated, and the attitude was going to be very, very important this week,” said McDowell. “This one's a pretty sweet victory. It feels a bit like the victory at Mayakoba… it comes at the end of a long grind. This one's been coming.
“That's when I play my best, when I'm loose, when I'm just trying to compete every week rather than needing it as badly. I've been needing it too much lately and this is going to go a long way to helping me stop needing it and just going out there and just playing golf to try and compete every week. That's what I'm looking for,” he said. “This is a huge relief, this win. I've got to be honest, massive relief.”
McDowell had long admitted that life got in the way of him playing some good golf since his win in 2015 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He finished 160th on the FedExCup standings in 2015, 136th in 2017, and 144th in 2018.
He had to take all of January off as he battled a wrist injury. Up to that point he had no top-10s on the year, and was just plodding along without much to show for his efforts.
That all changed at Punta Cana. He shot 64 on Friday and Saturday, needing only 20 putts on the Saturday, and was four under after seven holes of his final round. He dropped a shot at the ninth and then made seven pars before a birdie at the par-three 17th, where Stroud dropped a shot.
McDowell’s long-time caddie, Ken Comboy, wasn’t surprised by the win, although he was probably the only one who felt that way.
“It’s been coming; it’s just not come soon enough,” Comboy, who has been with McDowell for 13 years, told PGATOUR.com. “Every week we’ve been in with a shout we’ve kept messing it up and it’s just been really frustrating. He’s not walked away from a golf tournament in the last 12 months like he’s got anything out of it. It’s been a frustrating time for him."
“It’s just a question of keep doing it, keep doing it, and it will turn.”
McDowell is still hoping for another Tour win to come when he can celebrate by having his three children run on to the green, but he enjoyed a call with his youngest after the trophy ceremony.
“He said, ‘Daddy won,’” said McDowell with a small break in his voice. “He's obviously got no concept what just happened, but that is the visual, that is my dream is to win with my kids there.”
In 2018 McDowell came to Punta Cana to try to earn some valuable FedExCup points and left feeling frustrated.
“The win was a huge relief,” said McDowell. “At some point I was going to get tired of messing up, and that week I got tired messing up.”
Be part of the action with a selection of unique golf tournament experiences, from playing in a pro-am with the stars to watching the action at golf’s most illustrious events. Whether it’s the Masters or The Open, The Ryder Cup or WM Phoenix Open, build your own bespoke package with the experts at Golfbreaks.com.
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)