Saudi International 2020 R4 { 602 images } Created 29 Jan 2020

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).

Player quotes

Graeme McDowell

“I didn't realise it had been quite that long since I’d won here in Europe. I'm very excited. I'm very relieved. This is a difficult golf course this week. It's unusual to win feeling as uncomfortable as I did on a lot of these holes because it was a tough golf course these last two days, especially with tough conditions. The birdies on 14 and 15 were just huge at the time, and it was nice to have a that little cushion coming down the last couple.

“My big goal this year was to be back in the Top-50 in the world, back competing in the big tournaments. I'm very excited that it's happened a little faster than I expected but hopefully it's laying some foundations down for having a big year.

“I really feel like I'm moving in the right direction, and it's weeks like this that really give that you which I can additional effect and hopefully I can use it.
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