Graeme McDowell celebrated his Saudi International victory in impressive manner as the ‘guest-of-honour’ of the Saudi Government.
McDowell’s stature as a true global superstar was enhanced in ending a near six-year victory drought in winning the Saudi International by two shots along the Red Sea shoreline before dining in the grandiose host Royal Greens Club clubhouse.
The win was the 16th of McDowell’s career and remarkably a 12th in a dozen different countries starting in Sweden and now winning the Dominican Republic and Saudi Arabia in the past 10 months.
As well, McDowell’s now sunk winning putts among those 16 career wins along the shores of nine renowned bodies of water.
McDowell dined with Majed Al Sorour, CEO of Saudi Government run Saudi Golf Federation with Al Sorour answering directly to His Excellency Yasir O. Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation.
Al-Rumayyan is also Governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIM), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Chairman of Saudi Aramco. He also sits on the boards of the transportation network company Uber Technologies Inc. and the Japanese multinational SoftBank Group.
It is very strongly believed that it is the PIM behind a proposed breakaway Premier Golf League (PGL) that has rocked the golfing establishment in recent weeks. It was also Al-Rumayyan with the help of Al Sorour who managed to entice Phil Mickelson to Saudi Arabia, and that saw Mickelson controversially miss the Phoenix Open, staged also last week, for a first time in 26-years.
“We were delighted to have Graeme, although many know him as GMac, join us for dinner last night as he is a great champion and he has done the Saudi International very proud,” said Al Sorour.
“The Saudi Golf Federation, Saudi Invest and all our sponsors, could not be happier to have two Major winners as our first two champions.”
As predicted by Irish Golfer Magazine, McDowell has jumped 57 spots to be the new World No. 47 as he aims to receive the most prized envelope a pro golfer could find in the mailbox and that’s one stamped, ‘Augusta, GA’.
All McDowell now needs to do is remain inside the top-50 on the World Rankings and he’s teeing-up in a first Masters since 2016.
One of those thrilled to now have a second Irishman in a three-ball all-Ireland Masters practice round is Shane Lowry who waited calmly in the Scorer’s Hut last Sunday to be among the first to greet him and caddy, Ken Comboy.
“I’m delighted for Graeme to get his first European Tour win a while but then he won earlier last year in the States while he was fourth a few weeks ago in Hawaii, so he’s started off the New Year in great form,” said Lowry.
“The jump he’s made in the World Rankings is incredible and I’m so happy for him. It means another Irishman to join us for an Augusta practice round.
“GMac’s also one of my best mates out here and that’s the reason I’m here waiting for him but then of all the places for him to win, we can’t celebrate with a few beers tonight (laughing).
“I’m sure we will get the chance to have a decent celebration somewhere along the road.
“The way he played the last two rounds was a clear example of what GMac is all about. Anytime GMac looks confident, he’s a very tough man to beat.”
And with the Ryder Cup inching ever-closer, and McDowell on record as stating he knows he’s heading to Whistling Straits, Lowry would dearly love to see his ‘best mate’ heading to the shoreline of Lake Michigan with his golf clubs in tow.
“He wants too much to be taking his golf clubs to Whistling Straits and I would not mind one bit being his playing partner.”
Lowry also was full of praise for the work McDowell has undertaken since last August with American-born coach, Chris Kirk.
“I played a practice round with GMac last week and I noticed just how much better he’s hitting the ball off the tee, and it’s just incredible he’s out here still winning.
“The one thing is that you can never question is his determination. He’s only 40 and he’s got plenty of years ahead of him.
“Also, when he wins, I want to win. It just keeps the fire in the belly red hot.”