McDowell sparkles in Wales win
Graeme McDowell has sent Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie a clear message with his victory at the Wales Open.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell must surely have sent Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie a bold and clear massage with his brilliant victory at the Wales Open at Celtic Manor on Sunday.
Playing on the new 2010 Course where he hopes to earn his second Ryder Cup cap against the Americans in October – quite possibly as Rory McIlroy’s partner – the 30-year-old Ulsterman played some magnificent golf to hold off the hungry and ambitious pack that was snapping at his heels for much of the round.
In-form Welshman Rhys Davies lead the chase and certainly put a lot of heat into the race with a stunning course record 62 that saw him cover the middle 12 holes in 10 under par.
But McDowell matched the 25-year-old’s front nine 30, started for home with two more birdies and then, with a three-stroke lead once Davies had bogeyed the difficult 16th, kept himself comfortably clear heading home with some no-nonsence golf of the winning kind.
A closing 63 for a 15 under par total of 269 gave McDowell, winless since the 2008 Scottish Open, the £300,000 first prize by three and left Davies a runner-up for the second week running.
“I think it’s the best final round I’ve ever played to win a tournament,” he said.
“The first 11 holes was dream golf and I am ecstatic. I feel like I’m in the form of my life right now and I really feel I have a big event in me.”
The size of the cheque was still not enough to put McDowell into an automatic qualifying place in the points race, but the odds on him receiving a wild card if need be should come crashing down because of where this eventr was played – and won.
“To win around here is certainly going to stand me in good stead if I need a pick,” he added.
Four behind at the start of the day,. McDowell could not have expected to become the man to catch so quickly, but overnight leader Marcel Siem put two balls in the water and ran up a quadruple bogey seven at the short third.
Davies, eight adrift when he teed off, knew he was in with a chance from the moment he sank his 170-yard eight-iron for an eagle two on the eighth.
His fourth birdie came on the next, then he produced two more at the start of the inward half and when he drove the green at the 377-yard dogleg 15th and made his 30-foot putt for another eagle two, the European Tour’s first-ever 59 was still a possibility.
The Tour rookie required two more birdies for that, but instead he failed to get up and down from sand on the next and had to settle for two closing pars.
His round nevertheless shaved a stroke off the course record set by Stephen Gallacher in the third round and matched by his fellow Scot Marc Warren early on the final day.
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