Graeme McDowell again displayed the traits that have made him a feared Ryder Cup competitor in defeating Thongchai Jaidee 2-and-1 in the final of the Volvo World Match-Play Championship in Bulgaria on Sunday.
McDowell had been 2 down after four holes to Thongchai, but sensed near the turn his 43-year-old rival was starting to tire in the heat at the Thracian Cliffs course.
The Northern Irishman, who had beaten South African Branden Grace earlier in the day to reach the final, fought back to draw level with Thongchai at the 12th before going 2-up in winning the 14th and 15th holes before sealing victory with a par at the 17th.
“It’s just unbelievable to win as it’s been a long week, and it could be said these events are tougher to win than stroke-play events,” McDowell said.
“Somehow beating six guys head-to-head with the standard of golf required there is certainly an amount of feel good factor,” he said.
“However, I thought when Thongchai went 2-up after four holes that this wasn’t the script I had read, but then after winning the seventh and managing to halve nine and 10 I felt good,” McDowell said. “I felt like I was starting to get in control, and I sensed Thongchai was weakening and I just sensed an opening and I just seized on that.”
McDowell also becomes the first Irish-born winner of the tournament.
“To be the first Irish-born winner of the event is special as it to join some of the greats of the game who have won this trophy,” McDowell said.
“But I’m looking at the trophy and seeing Montgomerie, Els, Westwood, Palmer, Player, Norman, Els,” he said. “The history of this event is just fantastic.”
? MADEIRA ISLANDS OPEN
AP, SANTO ANTONIO DA SERRA, Portugal
American Peter Uihlein won the Madeira Islands Open by two strokes after shooting a 4-under 68 on Sunday for his first career title in his 16th European Tour event.
Uihlein birdied four of his last eight holes for a 15-under total of 273 at the Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra course. It was his third top-10 finish from seven European Tour events this season.