Mexican magic as McDowell wins Mayakoba Classic
Graeme McDowell has ended a 16-month winless drought after capturing the OHL Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.
McDowell made the most in missing out on qualifying for the European Tour’s Final Four Series to win for the first time contesting the ‘Mexican Major’.
The Northern Irishman will move back inside the world’s top-50 along with earning an invitation to contest next year’s Masters with his play-off success over Scotland’s in-form Russell Knox and American Jason Bohn.
All three had ended the rain-affected event tied at 18-under par but it was McDowell who claimed a third PGA Tour title and his first since sealing success in the 2013 RBC Heritage.
It was his first taste of victory since capturing a second straight French Open title in June 2014.
McDowell and Knox, who wore black ribbons in memory of last Friday’s ‘Paris Attack’, each posted fourth round scores of 66 while Bohn ended with a 68.
However it was McDowell who struck the lethal blow holing a testy birdie putt at the first extra hole to win ‘Mexica’s Major’ in his first appearance in the $US 6.1m event that earned him a $1,116,000 first prize cheque.
And McDowell was the first to admit it had been a frustrating time since he was last handed a trophy back in June 2014 after capturing a second straight French Open title in Versailles.
“It really gives me something to grab onto,” McDowell said of the victory. “You go through a year like this and you think, ‘am I finished? Am I good enough? You ask yourself all the questions.”
“The game of golf is very difficult and it’s been a tough year but this is special. I have been dreaming of this day and I said to myself I was going to appreciate it when it came, so I am going to really appreciated this one as it’s been a tough year.”
“So this win is special and I will share it with my caddy, my team, my manager and my wife.”
“So this is a nice step back to where I want to be as I want to win more tournaments, win more major championships, so this win is very special.”
McDowell began the day tied with Knox on 19-under after Sunday’s final day was cut short by storms, but after a brief stoppage for more rain Knox made his move with a birdie at the 13th.
The Scot, chasing back-to-back victories after winning the WGC – HSBC Champions last week, handed back that shot at the next but it was McDowell’s error in leaving his par putt in the jaws of the hole at the 16th that opened the door for Knox.
As the Northern Irishman posted the clubhouse lead on 18-under – holing a nerveless 10-footer for par – Knox stood on the 18th tee needing a par-four for victory.
However, he pulled his drive into a bunker, came up short of the green and missed from 15 feet for victory. Bohn, who had started the day two behind, joined them in the play-off but when McDowell, first to play his approach to the 18th, hit a five-iron to two feet, victory was his as neither of his rivals could match his birdie.
The win takes McDowell’s PGA Tour career earnings over the $US13 million mark while he has earned an invitation to the 2016 Masters and should be back assured of playing all four Majors of 2016 given he will move back into the world’s top-50.
Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby were the sole Aussies that made it through the weekend cut with Baddeley finishing in equal 46th place and Allenby at 68th.