Graeme McDowell wins in Dominican Republic

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell claimed his first title since 2015 with victory in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.

McDowell carded five birdies and two bogeys in a closing 69 to finish 18 under par, a shot ahead of Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes and American Chris Stroud, who had held a one-shot lead with two holes to play.

However, while Stroud bogeyed the par-three 17th, playing partner McDowell hit a superb tee shot to six feet and converted the birdie putt before both players bogeyed the 18th.

The victory gives McDowell a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and will lift the former US Open champion from 257th in the world to inside the top 150.

“It’s been a rough few years,” the 39-year-old said. “It’s been a grind. On 16 green, I said to myself, ‘You’ve got to do something that’s tournament-winning’. The shot to 17 was tournament-winning level.”

McDowell began the day with a one-shot lead and surged three clear thanks to three birdies in the first four holes, but Stroud birdied four holes in a row from the fourth and also picked up shots on the 14th and 15th to take the lead before suffering a costly finish.

Ireland’s Paul Dunne finished in a tie for 12th following a final round of 71.

Speaking about the crucial birdie on the 17th, McDowell added: “I’ve been struggling with my long-iron play all week, medium and long-iron play.

“It’s a shot I’ve been working on on the range the last few days and it was a perfect six iron, it was a perfect number for me and when it came off the bat I knew it was pretty good.”

Stroud was magnanimous in defeat, adding: “To be honest, Graeme earned it. He hit some great shots and 17 is a perfect example.

“He hit a lot of good shots today and didn’t get rewarded. He got rewarded there.

“I hit the ball really poorly today and I did a really, really good job of making awesome pars, making some birdies when I had a chance.

“I just hit it pretty poorly, and to have a chance to win hitting it that poorly makes me feel pretty good. Even coming down the last two holes, I hit a pretty poor chip on 17 after hitting a horrendous six iron.”