Graeme McDowell battles back to reclaim pride in Wales
Graeme McDowell recovered from what he termed the "anomaly" of his 81 on Saturday by improving 10 strokes to a level-par 71 yesterday in the final round of the Saab Wales Open, won by Alexander Noren of Sweden.
Noren carded a steady one-under-par 70 with two birdies and one bogey for a nine-under 275 total to win by two from Anders Hansen of Denmark (71) and Gregory Bourdy of France (67).
Battling the wind and rain at Celtic Manor, McDowell set out to be respectable after he admitted on Saturday he had lost his swing and his patience.
His 71 left him tied for 30th in the tournament he won last year with weekend rounds of 64 and 63.
"I can't blame the conditions yesterday for sure. It was all my own work, I have to say," he admitted yesterday.
He described his 81 as, "just a bit of an anomaly. I just lost the feel of my swing a little bit and I lost my patience.
"Today I played a little better. I struck the ball quite nicely today. It was pretty miserable early on. This golf course is long in wet and cold conditions, so it's a great test," he said.
"It was important today to try to repair some of yesterday's damage. We get days at the office like that every now and again.
"It was good to have today to try to repair some of it and get some confidence for Congressional."
The US Open, where McDowell will again be defending the title, as he was here, is at the Congressional Course near Washington beginning June 16.
"Yesterday was my tournament done," said McDowell, who shot 67-68 in the first two rounds. "The damage was done yesterday."
But he was disappointed with his finish, finding water at the 15th for a bogey and three-putting the last for another bogey.
"I'm not alarmed about yesterday. I'm not disturbed about my game in any way, shape or form. My game's in good shape," he said.
"It's firing on all cylinders."
His plan for the run-up to the US Open is unchanged, three days at home "just to put the feet up and chill, relax and recharge the batteries", then flying to his Orlando home for three days of preparation before heading for Washington on Sunday.
Damien McGrane was a stroke better than McDowell after a steady week with nothing worse than 73, of which he had three to go with an opening 67.
Michael Hoey finished with a 77 for 294, 10 over.
Meanwhile, Darren Clarke who had looked as though he was beginning to come into a bit of form, shot his second successive 80, with a 10 at the 14th, for 302, second last of the 64 players who finished.
Burly Scot Elliot Saltman matched a European Tour feat of 20 years ago by acing the 194-yard 17th on Sunday for the second time in the tournament.
He also did so on Thursday, using an 8-iron then and a 7-iron on Sunday.
Irishman Eamonn Darcy was the last to ace the same hole twice in the same event at the 1991 Mediterranean Open. Saltman won a second magnum of champagne plus a night in the Presidential Suite at the Celtic Manor Resort for his achievement.
Winner Noren (28) will now head to Sunningdale for Monday's qualifying for the 2011 Open at Royal St George's, which takes place from July 14-17.