Defending champion Graeme McDowell suffered a third-round collapse at the Wales Open at Celtic Manor in Newport on Saturday, crashing to an 81 to equal the worst-ever round of his entire European Tour career.
On the course where he emerged as Europe’s Ryder Cup hero last October, the world No. 5 slumped from one off the lead overnight to a yawning 11 strokes adrift with a three round total of 216.
In stark contrast, Swede Alex Noren, the overnight leader, added a 71 to his rounds of 67 and 67 to give him an eight under par total of 205, one shot clear of compatriot Peter Hanson and Dane Anders Hansen.
For McDowell, now languishing in joint 33rd, this was an untimely slip up coming less than a fortnight before he tees off for the defense of his US Open title.
It could have been even worse as he thought he he might get a two-shot penalty for tapping down the ground as a chip came back to him on the 12th, but he escaped that because it was done in anger rather than with the intention to improve his lie.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed,” the Northern Irishman said. “I got off to a start where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.”
“After the 11th [a bogey six on a reachable par five], I completely lost my patience and at 12 [a quadruple bogey eight], I just lost my head. That was me gone,” McDowell said.
McDowell’s previous worst rounds on the European circuit were 81s at Valderrama in 2002 — his rookie season — and at Pinehurst in the 2005 US Open.
He was by no means the only one to suffer in windy conditions — Darren Clarke shot 80, Thomas Levet and Stuart Manley 81, Paul Broadhurst and Jason Knutzon 84.