McDowell contesting Hawaiian Open for just second time in his career

Graeme McDowell plays his shot from the third tee during the third round of the Sentry Tournament Of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Graeme McDowell is remaining in America’s 50th State to complete a first ‘Hawaiian Swing’ double by teeing-up in Thursday’s starting Sony Hawaiian Open.

McDowell ended a four-year absence in contesting Sunday’s concluding ‘winners only’ Sentry Tournament of Champions where he posted a closing round 72 to share 23rd place on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

It was an indifferent week for GMac who never really got out of first gear in the 34-player event won by American Justin Thomas with a birdie at the third extra play-off hole.

Thomas, who carded a last day 69, ended regulation play tied with compatriots Patrick Reed (66) and Xander Schauffele (70) at 14-under par.

The trio returned to the par-5 18th with Schauffele dropping out when he took par compared with birdies by both Thomas and Reed, while Thomas and Reed each walked off with a par at the same hole a second time around.

Reed then missed his eight-foot birdie at the same hole leaving Thomas to make sure of his own birdie ‘4’ and capture a 12th PGA Tour triumph and a second Tournament of Champions Title in three years.

“For some reason, I was supposed to win this week,” said Thomas. “And I just got very lucky there on the 18th for a third time in the play-off to even have a birdie putt, so very pleased to start the New Year with a win.”

McDowell managed just 13 birdies over the four days that included a birdie-free third round while he also posted 10 bogeys and a very hurtful double-bogey ‘6’ at the 16th hole on day four.

It was the first time McDowell had qualified for the event since a T29th finish in the 2016 staging of the event when he failed to break 70 over the four Hawaiian days.

McDowell made his Hawaiian debut in 2011 Tournament of Champions as the reigning US Open champion and he really shot the lights out on day four thanks to a 62 to finish third.

His effort in the first event of 2020 proper has seen McDowell move 27 places to 78th on the FedEx Cup points table.

And as he joins the field on the main island of Honolulu for this week’s 45th anniversary of the $6.6m event, the Northern Irishman will not want reminding the only other occasion he contested the event in 2016 he missed the cut.



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