Former U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell earned his first win in nearly two years with a playoff victory in Mexico. Here are the numbers that made all the difference.
McDowell topped the field in birdies this week with 27, matching the career high he set at the 2011 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The Northern Irishman was clutch with the flat stick, finishing fourth in putting average and putts per round. He took just 25 putts in the first round and matched that total again on the last 18 — despite a near fatal 3-putt on the 16th.
The first hole was a struggle for McDowell all week as he posted two double-bogeys, one bogey and one par to start each of the four rounds. He helped overcome those rough starts with strong finishes, playing the last two holes at 4-under. Overall, he was at his best on holes 3 thru 12, playing them at 18-under without dropping a single shot.
This is McDowell’s third win on the PGA Tour, and each of them has come on a course that’s within sight of a large body of water. This week’s win came at Cancun’s El Camaleon Golf Club on the Caribbean Sea. In 2013, he won the RCB Heritage Classic at Harbour Town Links in Hilton Head, which borders the Calibogue Sound about a half mile from the Atlantic Ocean. His first — and biggest — Tour title came in the 2010 U.S. Open at the Pebble Beach Links, right on the banks of the Pacific.
Number of weeks since G-Mac’s last top-15 finish, at the Dubai Desert Classic (a 25-event stretch). Since his last win at the 2014 French Open, McDowell has only finished in the top-10 six times.
This win moves McDowell to No. 62 in the world rankings, a 23-spot jump from when he arrived in Mexico. He’ll need to keep climbing into the Top-50 in order to qualify for the World Golf Championship series in 2016, but while his 2010 U.S. Open title gives him a 10-year free pass to that event, this victory also guarantees him a spot in several key 2016 tourneys, including the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players Championship, the PGA Championship and the Masters.