Graeme McDowell took full advantage of the top players in the world competing for the WGC-Match Play in Texas to win the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club for his first PGA Tour title since 2015.
McDowell had a third round to remember with just 20 putts en route to a 64 to give him a one shot lead heading into the final day, and he held off Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes with a 69 on Sunday to win by one.
The victory in the ‘opposite field’ event doesn’t not get him exemptions into next week’s Masters or The Open, which is held in his hometown of Portrush this year, but it does hand him a place in the US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black next month and a spot in next year’s Players Championship.
“This is for the people that stood by me,” said an emotional McDowell. “It’s been a grind for my whole family, my wife, my kids back home. It’s been a rough few years.”
The win was McDowell’s fourth on the PGA Tour and his first since the Mayakoba Golf Classic in 2015. His Tour exemption after that triumph ended in August last year and this year the former US Open winner had been relying on sponsor’s invites this year. He began the week ranked 257th in the world but jumped inside the top 140 as a result of the victory.
“This win is going to go a long way towards getting me back to where I want to be in the game,” he said. “Back in the top 50, top 100 in the world, competing on a week-to-week basis against the best players.”
There was also another emotional return to the winner’s circle on the European Tour for McDowell’s 2014 Ryder Cup teammate Stephen Gallacher as the Scot ended a five-year drought at the Hero India Open in New Delhi. The 44-year-old birdied three of the last four holes to bounce back from an earlier quadruple bogey to win by one from Masahiro Kawamura, with Jorge Campillo in third.