2019 Champion McDowell purring again at Puntacana

Adam McKendry

Graeme McDowell (Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images)

Adam McKendry

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Graeme McDowell was delighted with the finish to his second round at the Corales Puntacana Championship as he birdied four of his last five holes to move himself just one shot off the early second round lead.

The Rathmore man had hit a dip in the middle of the day, carding his first bogey of the week at the sixth at Corales Golf Course and then adding another at the 11th, but he recovered superbly for a second consecutive four-under 68 to reach eight-under-par for the week.

That leaves him one shot back of current leader Adam Schenk, who also had a 68 in his second round to set the clubhouse target after the early wave of starters in the Dominican Republic, and carrying some form into the weekend.

“It was a key finish to get my momentum back moving into the weekend, continuing to feel very comfortable, like the way the greens are setting up, driving it really well and just got to keep doing more of the same really,” said McDowell, who won this tournament in 2019.

“It dawned on me on the sixth tee that I hadn’t made a bogey yet and subsequently made a bogey right away. It’s amazing how the brain works. As soon as that thought came into my head, I couldn’t get rid of it again.

“Kind of struggled for three or four holes after that. Then great two-putt par on 12 and a great swing into 13, which actually ended up going over the green, but it was a great swing and it kind of got me back on track again.

“I hit the ball really well coming in and I obviously made some nice putts, which was a big key, key to kind of make some birdies coming in because wind feels like it’s dying down a little bit and the guys might make some birdies this afternoon. Hopefully they don’t get too far away from us.”

G-Mac had continued his good form from day one into his second round when he birdied the par-five fourth and, although he recorded that bogey on the sixth, he reached the turn one-under for the day with another birdie on the par-four eighth.

And a second bogey at the 11th proved just a speedbump as he sparked into superb form in his final few holes, the 16th the only hole he didn’t birdie from the 14th onward as he put himself right in contention for a first win since February 2020 going into the weekend.

“I’ll be looking to get out of the gates fast tomorrow and just continue driving it well, continue giving myself plenty of looks, and like I say, the putter’s feeling pretty good,” he added.

Schenk found an eagle, three birdies and a bogey in his 68 that has him one clear of McDowell at nine-under-par for the week, with overnight leader Ben Martin at eight-under as well after just four holes of his second round.

There is a small gap between the trio and the chasing pack, with David Lipsky and Greyson Sigg the next best on the leaderboard at six-under, both players having already finished their second rounds.

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