THOUSAND OAKS, California, (Reuters) – Graeme McDowell continued his love affair with California by winning for the first time in two years when he held off playing partner Keegan Bradley to clinch the World Challenge by three shots yesterday.
The Northern Irishman, who had endured a title drought since his playoff victory here over tournament host Tiger Woods in 2010, ended his 2012 campaign on a triumphant note as he closed with a four-under-par 68 to post a 17-under total of 271.
Though McDowell survived a few anxious moments over the closing stretch at a rain-soaked Sherwood Country Club, he rebounded from a bogey at the 13th with birdies at the 16th and the par-four last to keep Bradley at bay.
McDowell, who won his first major title in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in Northern California, coolly sank a six-footer on the 18th green to claim the winner’s cheque for $1 million with his fiance Kristin Stape looking on.
“I’m just over the moon to kind of get the job done,” McDowell told reporters after improving his remarkable World Challenge record to two wins and a runner-up spot in three starts.
“It’s been too long. It’s been a hell of a two years since I sat here as a winner, and we all put winning kind of up on a pedestal as the ultimate goal.
“Keegan really pushed me today. He played great, and we really separated ourselves from the field and kind of made it the matchplay-type vibe.”
Bradley finished second after signing off with a 69. American Bo Van Pelt (70) was alone in third at 10 under, a stroke better than compatriots Rickie Fowler (69), Jim Furyk (70) and five-times champion Woods 71.
“Overall I struggled with my game this week,” said defending champion Woods, who had been bidding for a fourth victory this year. “I didn’t quite have it.
“It’s been a tough week for all of us. Just tough conditions to get the ball close. And yesterday and today it played really long.”
Two ahead at the start of another rain-soaked day at Sherwood, McDowell maintained his advantage when he and playing partner Bradley both recorded two-putt birdies at the par-five second.