Graeme McDowell held on for a one-shot victory at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, the first PGA Tour win since 2015 for the former U.S. Open champ.
McDowell started the final round in the Dominican Republic with a one-shot lead, but he was trailing Chris Stroud by a shot with two holes to go. A birdie on 17 and a bogey at the last gave him a closing 69 and a one-shot win over Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes.
The opposite-field victory does not get McDowell, 39, into the Masters, nor does it secure him a spot at The Open this summer in his hometown of Portrush. But it does bring with it a spot in the PGA Championship in May as well as trips to The Players and Sentry Tournament of Champions next year. It also gives McDowell a full Tour exemption through the 2021 season, perhaps the biggest incentive for a veteran playing this season on conditional status.
“This is big for the people that stood by me,” McDowell said. “It’s been a grind for my whole family, my wife, my kids back home. It’s been a rough few years.”
McDowell’s win is his fourth on Tour and first since the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November 2015. The exemption for that win ran out in August, leaving the Ulsterman scrambling for starts this year. Once ranked as high as fourth in the world, he teed off this week ranked No. 257.
Full-field scores from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
But needing a late birdie and with Stroud off the green, McDowell stuffed a 6-iron to within 6 feet on the par-3 17th that sparked a two-shot swing, taking him from one behind to one in front heading to the last.
“I was standing on 16 green and I said to myself, ‘You’ve got to do something that’s tournament-winning,'” he said. “The shot to 17 was tournament-winning level.”
Stroud bogeyed the final two holes to fall into a tie for second after a final-round 69, while Hughes closed with 66. Monday qualifier Chip McDaniel shot a 63 to tie for fifth, a finish that will earn him a spot in next week’s Valero Texas Open. Other notable finishes included Kelly Kraft (T-5), Aaron Baddeley (T-7) and Sungjae Im (T-7).