Graeme McDowell with trophy (photo: Mark Susson)
Sitting atop the throne at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks never felt so good.
For the second time in three years, Graeme McDowell has captured the World Challenge title. Two years ago, he rallied from four shots behind in the final round to beat Tiger Woods in a playoff.
With a pair of stellar short-game shots on the back nine, McDowell finished with a 4-under 68 to win by three shots over Keegan Bradley.
"It's been a frustrating year," McDowell said. "This really caps off my season."
Two years ago, the win solidified a fantastic season in which McDowell won his first major at the U.S. Open and delivered the winning point for the European squad at the Ryder Cup, which had the golf world whispering, "next big thing."
He hadn't won since.
"It's been too long. It's been a hell of a two years since I sat here as a winner," McDowell said. "We all put winning up on a pedestal as the ultimate goal. We like to say that it's all about the process and going through the motions and trying to get better. But let's be honest. We all measure ourselves by the win. I can say that now."
"For two years, I've been saying things like 'processes' and 'trying to get better' and 'be patient' and 'hopefully the wins will come.' So I'm just relieved, really. I guess I got fed up with telling everybody that I'm playing well. I'm relieved to get across the line and take some nice confidence into this little off period I've got coming up."
"I know I'm good enough," McDowell said. "I think when you know you're good enough, it gets even more frustrating."
He finished the tournament with a 17-under 271 and earned $1 million against the 18-man field.
"Graeme really likes this place," Bradley said. "Just when I thought maybe I'd have a good chance, he'd hole a putt or hit a chip like he did on 17. He's a champion. I don't expect anything less out of him."
Woods was unable to start fast on the rain-soaked Sunday. He didn't make his first birdie until the par-5 13th.
"I struggled with my game a little bit this week," said Woods. "I just managed myself well to get around in these conditions."