Graeme McDowell ended his ‘very strange year’ on a disappointing note with a back injury ruling him out of the final two rounds at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
McDowell birdied the last hole in a bogey-laden second round four-over par 76 that handed him a five-over par tally in the no-cut event on the Earth course. ‘G-Mac’, returning to Jumeirah Estates for a first occasion since 2014, was then lying in a share of 58th in the 65-player season-ending European Tour event.
Shortly after the completion of play, he advised Tour officials of issues with his back and ruled himself out of the Euro 6.6m event. It ends a 22nd season in the pro ranks on a distinct low after the enormous excitement of 10 months earlier in February when McDowell brilliantly ended a six-year European Tour winless drought to capture the Saudi International. Victory returned McDowell into the top-50 on the World Rankings for a first time since the 2015 US Open to also assure him a first Masters invitation since 2017.
However, McDowell’s return to PGA Tour competition following the lifting of the lockdown on June 11th was then dramatically curtailed a fortnight later when long-time caddy Ken Comboy tested positive for COVID-19. McDowell tested negative but withdrew from the Travelers stating at the time that the reason was “For the protection of the field and for my own physical and mental well-being”.
He returned after a three-week break to contest 12 events on the PGA Tour and three regular events on the European Tour but missed the halfway cut in nine, including the three majors played this year, before now being a ‘WD’ in Dubai.
The news came as no surprise when on the eve of this week’s DP World Championship, McDowell remarked: “It’s been a very strange year and on a lot of levels. It’s been difficult since we came back after the break, and is it because I took my eye off golf for too long?
“Perhaps I did, you know, I focused on family time, and I focused on some physical stuff that I wanted to try and achieve and you know when I came back, my golf wasn’t as sharp as I left it off.” McDowell’s withdrawal reduces the Dubai field to 64.