Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Winner: Graeme McDowell

For Graeme McDowell, “big” — like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder. And from where he stood, in the winner’s circle, the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship was as big as they come. Well, okay, so not as big as his 2010 U.S. Open Championship — he was the first Northern Irishman to win it — but almost the next thing to it, given the circumstances.

The Corales was played in late March in the Dominican Republic, the opposite event to the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas.

“This is big — this is big,” said McDowell, 39, after wrapping up a one-stroke victory over Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes. Then he noted: “Don’t like calling this a second-tier event, but obviously the best players in the world are in Austin this week. Still got a great field down here.”

McDowell took the final lead in the last round with a birdie at the par-three 17th on a stunning six-iron tee shot to seven feet. It proved to be the winner when his two challengers stumbled home. Hughes, in the next-to-last grouping, started the final round four off McDowell’s lead and erased his deficit with seven birdies. But then he bogeyed the par-four 18th for a 66 and a 17-under 271. Stroud, in the final grouping with McDowell, birdied four straight from No. 4, but bogeyed both the 17th and 18th for a 69 and tied Hughes for second. And McDowell, who started the final round leading Stroud by one, had five birdies on the front nine, then ground out pars up to his birdie at the 17th, which proved to be decisive when, like Stroud and Hughes, he bogeyed the par-four 18th. The bogey, a two-putt from 30 feet, wrapped up a card of 73-64-64-69–270, 18 under, for the one-stroke win.

It was his fourth win on the PGA Tour, including the 2010 U.S. Open, and his first since late in 2015. “This one’s a pretty sweet victory,” McDowell said. “This one’s been coming.” “Graeme earned it,” Stroud said. There was a moment-of-truth sense to McDowell’s finish. “I was standing on 16 green,” McDowell said, “and I said to myself, ‘You’ve got to do something that’s tournament-winning. The [tee] shot to 17 was tournament-winning level.” “You walked right to your bag, you didn’t watch it,” someone said. “Yeah,” he said. “When I made contact with it and I looked up and I was like, yep, there it is.” Said someone in the media corps: “You’ve got three young kids at home and you’re going to the U.S. Open. There’s so much on the line … Where does this win rank for you?” “Yeah, don’t make me cry,” McDowell said. “Yeah, this is big, this is big … it’s been a grind. My whole family, my wife, my kids at home. It’s been some rough years.”


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