The wisdom of the old expression of horses for courses was rarely more amply demonstrated than at Sherwood Country Club on Sunday when Graeme McDowell captured his second Tiger Woods World Challenge title in three years, and with it the winners cheque for $1m (€765,733).
He finished on 17 under par 271, three ahead of his nearest rival Keegan Bradley.
It was the 10th time in 12 rounds that McDowell has shot in the 60s over the Jack Nicklaus designed layout. In three appearances, he has won twice and was runner-up in 2009.
Very significantly, in doing so this time, he left 11 members of this year’s US Ryder Cup team in his wake.
“This caps off my season,” smiled McDowell who has improved from 24th to 14th in the world rankings.
It was his first win since beating Tiger Woods in a play-off at Sherwood to close out a dream season in 2010 that included his first major at the US Open and the winning point for Europe at the Ryder Cup and follows a year of frustration on the golf course. He played in the final groups of the US and British Opens but came up short.
These disappointment sapped his confidence and, to some extent, his interest. He talked all last week about a 10-week break he has long been looking forward to, some time to be spent back in Ireland and the rest in Orlando, Florida, where he built a new house and is to open a tavern.
A year ago, Tiger Woods ended a 748-day drought with a win at his own World Challenge but there was no such happy finish to the current campaign as he finished eight shots behind McDowell. Nevertheless, it’s a year he will look back on with satisfaction. He won three times on the US PGA Tour and now won’t be seen again until the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour in January. He admitted: “I’m looking forward to putting the clubs away, enjoying the holidays and being with my kids.”
The 2013 European Tour campaign begins on Thursday at Royal Durban, South Africa with the inaugural €1m Nelson Mandela Championship. Branden Grace, a four-time winner in 2012, is the warm favourite to claim the top prize of €166,660 while the Irish in the field are Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane.
After his fine performance regaining his playing privileges in Spain last week and celebrating his 40th birthday on Saturday, Waterville’s David Higgins is now busily preparing his schedule for the coming season. He has entered for next week’s Dunhill championship but last night was 10th reserve for the €1.5m event.
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