Graeme McDowell cut a frustrated figure at the end of the third round but admitted he couldn’t be too disappointed as lower back spasms saw him fall down the leaderboard at the Corales Puntacana Championship.
The former US Open champion was right in the mix in the Dominican Republic, just one shot off the lead after a blistering start to Saturday’s round with three birdies in his opening seven holes, but things would go downhill rapidly.
It was on the eighth fairway that he started to feel the injury and despite getting some treatment, it would not improve the problem. McDowell would finish his round with two bogeys and a double on his back nine for a one-over 73 that drops him to seven-under-par for the tournament and down into 18th.
Seven shots behind leader Ben Martin, it looks like his race is run, particularly if the back problems persist into Sunday, but it was amazing that he finished the round as well as did given the pain he was in.
And the Rathmore man admits that, while it is of course frustrating he has fallen out of contention, he is not too upset given that it was down to something out of his control rather than bad shots.
“Feeling a bit sore. It’s rare for me to have any back trouble, I haven’t had any during my career, and that was the weird thing because I didn’t know how to deal with it,” he explained.
“My lower back started tightening up a lot around the eighth fairway, ninth tee and I made some bad swings around 11 and 12. I wasn’t sure what shots were going to come out and I missed them on the wrong side and paid the price.
“Really disappointed because I was there thereabouts and I was feeling really good, and then I went from feeling as good as I could feel to about as bad as I could feel in the space of 30 minutes.
“Disappointing, not a lot I can do about it, all I can do is go back and rehab it a bit tonight and hope I’m ready to go tomorrow. I’m maybe ‘#getting old’.”
As McDowell fell away, Martin furthered his hopes of winning wire-to-wire at Corales Golf Course with a two-under 70 to reach 14-under-par and he will take a two-shot lead into the final round over Chad Ramsey, who signed for a three-under 69 on day three.
Jhonattan Vegas is another shot back at 11-under following an impressive 65, with five players, including Belgium’s Thomas Detry, in a share of fourth at 10-under.