The Whole Sombrero
I’ve seen GMac win in France in somewhat bad weather. I’ve seen him win the Heritage with wind and rain afoot. And we’ve all seen him win his only major on a blustery, chilly June week at Pebble Beach. So it should be no surprise to anyone that McDowell found the winner’s circle at the OHL Mayakoba Classic after umpteen rain/weather delays. Well, except for the fact that Graeme did so having had only one top ten finish in 2015. Read that again. Graeme McDowell, Ryder Cup stalwart and European hero, major winner, and former top 10 player in the world hadn’t had a top 10 in forever. He’d was 50/50 to make cuts over his last 10 events or so. Then GMac said he found something in his swing based on a call he got from Greg Normal (of all people). Boom.
At Mayakoba GMac found himself with about 5 holes to play on Monday morning in the midst of a 3 horse race with Jason Bohn and recent WGC winner Russell Knox. When the dust settled those 3 tour pros found themselves in a playoff. GMac didn’t take long to dispose of his competition by making a birdie at 18 while Bohn and Knox made pars. This wasn’t some fluke birdie or long putt that found the hole, no. McDowell piped a 3 wood off the tee to find the fairway then flagged a 5 iron that nearly went in the hole to leave him with a 30 inch tap in for the win. That’s getting it done with some serious style.
Graeme’s last win was the 2013 Heritage at Hilton Head. His exemption for his efforts two years ago were near expiration. His only chance to play in the Masters next year was to win between now and Masters week, or come really damn close and move up the world rankings (not likely). GMac felt that pressure and it showed with pure relief after his winning putt fell. Then he told the Golf Channel how much it meant to him to win again because of the struggle golf has been for him recently. He also said he was going to allow himself to enjoy the big win because he had dreamed about when this would happen. He wants to win more and he wants to win big again. Today was the first step on the road to making that happen.
Russell Knox won the WGC event in Shanghai last week and I said he reminded me of Craig Perks, the 2002 Players Champ, because I thought he’d never win again (like Perks). Knox’s week in Mexico was a giant fuck you right back at me. While Knox didn’t win, he did everything but that. In fact, he should have won again, and would have if he could have simply parred the 72nd hole of the championship. That doesn’t make the week a loss for Knox, no fucking way. He’s hot and he’s taking advantage of courses and tournaments that fit his style of play. He very well might win on Sea Island in 6 days.
Jason Bohn had another great week, but he and Kevin Na should be looking to start a support group for all those 2nd place finishes they’re racking up early in the new PGA Tour season. Like Knox, Bohn had his chances on the last few holes to make a birdie that could have saved him from the playoff. As it was, Bohn had to make a clutch par putt on the final hole just to go back to the tee with Knox and McDowell. Keegan Bradley’s game was back from the dead in Mexico. Keegs shot a final round 66 (-5) to back door a top ten finish. I’ve been wondering when he’d resurface or if he’d become an also ran without his anchored putter.
Last weeks opposite field event winner (Sanderson Farms) Paul Malnati also returned to the top 10 this week at Mayakoba. As you can tell by what I thought of Knox’s performance, it always surprises me when a first time winner backs up his virgin win with another great effort. The top ranked amateur in the world, Arizona State’s John Rahm (above), was also in the field at Mayakoba. He and his 7 closest friends all tied for 10th. In 4 PGA Tour starts Rahm has finished in top 10 twice. He’ll be a walking ATM machine when he decides to turn pro sometime next year.
Shot Of The Day
This is about as automatic as GMac’s 30 inch putt to win the tournament. The Shot of the Day goes to McDowell’s flagged 5 iron on the 1st playoff hole. End of discussion.
Lost in that shot and the end result is the putt McDowell made to stay at 18 under on the 72nd hole. There was some serious pressure on him. He ran his birdie try about 8 feet by the cup and knew he had to make the comeback to have a chance at winning. He struck it with authority and drilled it dead center. Doesn’t if figure that GMac finds his game just in time for a Ryder Cup year?