Feb 3rd, 2020
McDowell rolls back years in Saudi
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
Saudi International, Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Saudi Arabia
Graeme McDowell showed the kind of determination which helped him become a Major Champion as he battled to a final round 70 to win his first European Tour title in more than five and a half years at the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.
The Northern Irishman finished on 12 under par at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, two shots clear of defending champion Dustin Johnson, to claim his 11th European Tour title and first since the 2014 Open de France – a wait of 2037 days.
The 40-year-old, who won the 2010 US Open, is now projected to move back into the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
McDowell held a one shot overnight lead over his 2014 Ryder Cup partner Victor Dubuission but bogeyed the opening hole, and after a scrappy front nine the pair reached the turn tied at the top of the leaderboard, with McDowell birdieing the eight hole and bogeying the ninth, while Dubuisson birdied the third and fifth, but bogeyed the fourth and sixth.
Frenchman Dubuisson could not mount a challenge after the turn though, carding a four-over-par back nine of 39 in his round of 74 to finish tied sixth on seven under par.
Instead, the main threat came from inaugural Saudi International winner Johnson, who eagled the final hole for a round of 67 to post the clubhouse target of ten under par, with Belgian Thomas Pieters having earlier signed for a 65 and a nine under total.
McDowell bounced back from a bogey on 13th hole with back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes. He took a two shot lead down the last and despite leaving his third shot short of the green from a greenside bunker, he made par to claim a memorable victory, becoming the second Ryder Cup player in his 40s to win during the Middle East swing after Lee Westwood’s Rolex Series victory in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA two weeks ago.
Johnson finished runner up while Pieters shared third place with five-time Major Champion Phil Mickelson (67) and Malaysia’s Gavin Green (70).
For the final leaderboard click HERE
Waste Management Phoenix Open, TPC Scottsdale, Arizona
Webb Simpson beat Tony Finau in a play-off to win the Phoenix Open in Arizona. The 34-year-old American drove the green at the 17th hole to set up a birdie and followed it up with another at the last hole to force his way into the play-off with Finau who missed his birdie effort from eight feet on the last.
Simpson started the final round one shot behind playing partner Finau and when he found water off the tee at the 15th hole, it looked to be all over as Finau led by two shots with three to play. Both players parred the 16th, a hole the PGA Tour had set up in honour to Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash last week.
The organisers used the two LA Lakers numbers worn by Bryant to determine the location of the 16th hole pin. The flag also bore the Lakers colours with the numbers eight and twenty-four on the two sides.
After driving the short par four 17th hole for a two putt birdie, Simpson stood on the final tee one behind Finau. He then proceeded to birdie the 18th hole twice, firstly to force his way into the play-off and then again to win the first extra hole.
"I didn't have my best stuff but I hung in there," said Simpson.
"To come down to the last couple of holes and then birdie 18 twice feels great."
Finau was philosophical after his disappointing loss. "I had a chance, a great chance to win this week. Unfortunately, it didn't happen, but my game's better than it's ever been."
Justin Thomas shot a final round 65 to finish three back from the leaders in a share of third place with fellow countrymen Bubba Watson (64) and Nate Lashley (68).
For the final leaderboard click HERE
And another thing...