By Paul Myers
If you are a golf fan, you already know the name Graeme McDowell. As a major champion and Ryder Cup team member, McDowell has been a prominent member of the international golf scene for many years. His track record as a leading player on the world stage is what made his results in the 2015 season so shocking. Graeme McDowell finished 160th in the FedEx Cup standings last season, having played in 15 events and only registering one top ten finish. By comparison, he has 8 top ten finished in 2014 and was 56th in the FedEx Cup. 2015 was certainly a down year for McDowell, and he himself would be the first to acknowledge that fact.
While the calendar still reads 2015, the 2016 season is already well under way, and it continued this past weekend in Mexico. The OHL Classic at Mayakoba was played at El Camaleon GC in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and the event was forced to a Monday finish due to difficult weather conditions throughout the week. In the end, it was McDowell returning to form by capturing the title in a three-way playoff. Graeme McDowell showed his true form in that playoff, as he hit an incredible five iron approach shot on the first playoff hole to set up a birdie putt for the win. When fellow competitors Russell Knox and Jason Bohn failed to make birdie, the McDowell only had to clean up a short little putt to claim the trophy.
Great Year to Come?
For a player with the pedigree of McDowell, a win like this could go a long way toward kicking off an impressive 2016. This win was no fluke, either – McDowell played great golf all week en route to an 18 under par total of 266. Fellow major champions Keegan Bradley, Justin Leonard, Geoff Ogilvy, Stewart Cink, and Jason Dufner were also in the field, so there was plenty of quality competition to go around.
Although Russell Knox ended up falling short in the playoff of this week’s event, he has to feel great about the state of his game at the moment. Coming off of his first career win, Knox was nearly able to double up, as he needed just a par on the last hole of regulation to win the title outright. Unfortunately, an untimely bogey dropped him into the playoff with McDowell and Bohn and he would have to settle for a runner up finish to follow his win.
The Streak is Over
The other big news from the OHL Classic at Mayakoba was the end of the parade of first time winners on the PGA Tour. The first five events of the season had all seen first time winners, many of whom are only in their early 20’s. With Graeme McDowell’s win, that streak is over, as this was his third on the PGA Tour – to go along with nine other European Tour victories.
Looking ahead, the PGA Tour moves this week to The RSM Classic in Sea Island, GA. This will be the final PGA Tour even of the fall season, as the Tour takes a break for the holidays and returns in Hawaii in January. There will be a couple of other events during this ‘break’, such at the Hero World Challenge and the Franklin Templeton Shootout, but no more FedEx Cup points will be awarded until the Tour arrives in the Aloha State.