Graeme McDowell Closes The Deal

Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Graeme McDowell held off a charging Keegan Bradley on Sunday at the World Golf Challenge Presented by Northwestern Mutual to get his first win in two years. In fact, his last win came here, at Sherwood Country Club in 2010, where he beat Tiger Woods in a playoff. McDowell fired a Sunday best, -4 under 68 to win by three strokes over playing partner, Keegan Bradley.

The only drama on the day was at the par 5 16th hole. With a two stroke lead, McDowell, not being as long off the tee as Bradley, played three shots to the green while Bradley was aiming for an eagle putt. Bradley came up short, while McDowell put his third shot to 12 feet. Bradley’s chip went over the top of the hole, and stopped at gimme distance for birdie to get within one shot if McDowell didn’t make.

The one thing McDowell hasn’t done in two years, is make a big putt, in a crucial situation like this. He would not be denied on this day. McDowell stroked his putt in the hole to match Bradley’s birdie. After pars at the 17th hole, McDowell put his approach shot at 18, five feet from the flag. Keegan Bradley would have to hole out from the fairway to tie. He didn’t, and McDowell would make his birdie to put the cap on the tournament, and another Tiger Trophy for his mantle.

In early drizzle, and very soggy conditions, Keegan Bradley played well enough to keep McDowell honest on the day, shooting a -3 under par 69. He got into trouble on the front nine with back to back bogeys at 8 and 9, but rebounded with three birdies on the back nine to keep up the pressure. He played well, but it was only good enough second place.

Rickie Fowler made the Shot Of  The Day when he holed out for an eagle 2 from the fairway on the first hole. He gave one of the strokes back on the par 5 second hole when he hit his second shot into the water hazard in a attempt to go for the green in two. He made bogey 6, which is giving back two strokes to the field on this easy birdie hole. Fowler, dressed in Sunday day glo, made a run on the back nine, but with a bogey at 18, would shoot 69, and finish tied for fourth place with Jim Furyk, and tournament host Tiger Woods at -9 under par.

Tiger had a very uneventful round of golf on Sunday. Playing at times during the rain, with his cap on backwards, and looking like he was playing in a scramble with Michael Jordan, shot a -1 under 71. His only bright spot on the day was an eagle 3 at the 16th hole. He would make bogey at 18, and post -9 under par on his score card. Woods looked rusty during this tournament and at times seemed to show some signs that he was still struggling with distance control with his short irons. He didn’t give himself many looks at makeable birdie putts.

Graeme McDowell, who proposed to his girlfriend in Dubai, is looking to take some much needed vacation. He will be getting married, and moving his residence from Portrush Northern Ireland to Florida. He has hopped the globe this season, being involved on both tours with the FedEx Cup, playing the Ryder Cup, and on to the Race To Dubai. At least his last memory for the 2012 season will be getting the same win, at the same tournament that put the cap on his very successful 2010 season. I like Graeme McDowell, and am looking forward to seeing him compete in more PGA events next year.

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