Graeme McDowell heads to Texas declaring ‘massive progress’ with his share of fourth place at the Corales Puntacana Championship in Puerto Rico.
McDowell was five-under coming to the last two holes but walked out with a pair of closing bogeys in a three-under par 69 and finished on 10-under in bright but windy conditions on the Caribbean island where he had won in 2019. American Joel Dahmen, 33, captured his maiden Tour title courtesy of a closing round of 70 to win by a shot at 12-under par.
McDowell arrived in Puerto Rico having missed seven of nine halfway cuts since the start of the 2020/21 wraparound PGA Tour last September but will tee-up in Thursday’s starting Valero Texas Open in San Antonio with a first top-10 anywhere since his 2020 Saudi Invitational success.
He got his last round, just three shots from the front, off to a great start with birdies at two and three before holing a 12-footer for a third birdie of his round at the par-5 seventh. McDowell then holed a monster downhill putt for a birdie ‘2’ at 11 and then with mud on his ball just short of the green at the par-4 12th, he chipped to some five feet, cleaned the ball as allowed, and sent it to the bottom of the cut to move to five-under par.
Then after a brilliant birdie a day earlier at the par-3 17th, where you play one of those Portmarnock-like shots over the Irish Sea, but here over the edge of the windy Caribbean shoreline, the course got one back on McDowell in taking a bogey ‘4’ ahead of a 72nd hole bogey.
“Kenny (Comboy – caddy) and I had the conversation about it when we were finished at 18 because I mean, bogey-bogey today was very disappointing, but they’ve actually been very good to us this week, those holes,” said McDowell.
“It’s great to feel disappointed with a top-10 because it’s been a really, really rough three months this year. It’s actually been a rough stretch since last June, since we came back after the break. I really haven’t played the type of golf I know I’m capable of.
“It’s been a tough run and this is really a light at the end of the tunnel this week, so it’s really important that I sort of frame this up the right way. This is massive progress.”
Padraig Harrington ended his Puerto Rican campaign with a final round 73 for a three-over par total and a tie for 56th, one more than Seamus Power who finished at two-over after a last day 73. Harrington joins McDowell in San Antonio this week with each looking to secure the last invitation into the 8th of April commencing Masters.
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