Graeme McDowell (pictured) won his first title for two years at the World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods on Sunday. The Northern Irishman is a former US Open champion and is one of two players from that country to win the second major championship of the year in the last three years.
The other player is of course Rory McIlroy, a close friend of McDowell’s. When McDowell had finished playing in last year’s US Open he joined the galleries to support his compatriot. It is a remarkable statistical anomaly that a country with a population of about 1.8 million should produce two US Open champions in such a short space of time.
Ireland as a whole, which also includes the south of the country, has accounted for seven major championship wins since 2007. In addition to McDowell’s US Open McIlroy has won two majors, Darren Clarke was the Open champion in 2011 and Padraig Harrington has also won three majors.
McDowell also won the World Challenge in 2010 at the end of a season in which he won a major championship and holed the winning putt at the Ryder Cup. However, there was a dip in form the following year when McDowell had just three top tens in 16 starts in the States and didn’t add to his tally of seven European Tour tiles.
Keegan Bradley finished three shots behind McDowell in the World Challenge. His season has also been eventful, including a World Golf Championship win and a key role for the United States at the Ryder Cup.
Despite winning three points for his side alongside Phil Mickelson on the first two days Bradley will provably have an enduring feeling of disappointment after losing his singles match against McIlroy, after his opponent arrived at the course a mere ten minutes before being due to play.
Martin Kaymer holed the crucial putt for Europe which secured the Ryder Cup after the amazing comeback on that Sunday afternoon in Chicago. No doubt now full of confidence the former US PGA champion won the Nedbank Challenge last weekend, an event known as South Africa’s major.
Kaymer also lost his form and confidence after winning his major but won a WGC event last season. He holed several crucial putts over the back nine on Sunday but commented afterwards that now nothing he faces in golf will come close to the pressure he felt when he knew he had to hole a six foot putt to win the Ryder Cup.