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G-Mac just misses out on Shootout win

 

So near: Graeme McDowell and Emiliano Grillo fell short
So near: Graeme McDowell and Emiliano Grillo fell short

By Brian Keogh

Northern Ireland ace Graeme McDowell came agonisingly close to QBE Shootout glory in Florida yesterday as he and team-mate Emiliano Grillo finished as runners-up to Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman.

McDowell and his Argentine partner, who started the final round tied for the lead, combined for a 10-under-par 62 in yesterday's fourball format.

They finished on 29 under, a shot behind Americans Kizzire and Harman, who won the $3.4 million event with a 61.

LPGA star Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau were seventh on 23 under after a 65. Luke List and Charles Howell III (61), Kevin Na and Bryson DeChambeau (62), and Gary Woodland and Charlie Hoffman (63) tied for third on 28 under. McDowell and Grillo picked up three shots on the front nine and put together a run of seven straight birdies from the 11th. They carded an opening 59 under the scramble format and followed it up with a 66 in Saturday's foursomes. An eagle at the par-five 17th saw Kizzire and Harman go top of the leaderboard, and a par at the 18th was enough for victory.

"We knew we needed at least birdie and eagle was a bonus," Kizzire said. "He had a great iron shot in there close and freed me up, and I hit a good one, too. We both had looks at it. I putted first and made it. That was huge."

Harman added: "We had a little bit of a rough patch there, kind of seven, eight, nine but we both sort of said we've got to weather the storm and keep it going and I was really proud we hung in there, and we caught fire on the back nine. It was fun."

Meanwhile, Louis Oosthuizen fought back tears after he recovered from a shaky start to clinch a maiden victory in the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg. The 2010 Open champion made two bogeys and saw his three-shot overnight lead cut to one after three holes of the final round at Randpark Golf Club.

But he played the remaining holes in six under to card a closing 67 and win by six strokes from Frenchman Romain Langasque on 18-under par.

"I wish the family was here," Oosthuizen said as he choked back tears. "The crowd was great, it was nice to do it for them. I knew today was either going to be very special or heartbreaking. I'm chuffed to bits."

Langasque's closing 66 earned him one of three spots in The Open Championship at Royal Portrush with 2011 Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel and England's Oliver Wilson.

"It was good to play in St Andrews for my first Open because it's wide," Langasque said. "Portrush is not the same, the course is more narrow, but I'm ready to play these events as a pro."

Schwartzel said: "I'm happy that I get to play The Open in Northern Ireland which will be really nice."

• LEONA Maguire eagled the par-five 18th to remain on track to qualify for the Final Stage of the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in Morocco.

The Slieve Russell star (24) fired an error-free, four-under 68 to sit alone in second place on 12 under par heading into today's final round of the 72-hole Lalla Aicha Tour School pre-qualifier at Amelkis Golf Club in Marrakesh.

She is seven adrift of Sweden's Linnea Strom, who made 11 birdies in a 10-under-par 62 to lead on 19 under in the race to make the top 38 and ties who will advance to Final Stage at the same venue from December 16-20.

Leona's twin sister Lisa has work to do after a 71 left her tied for 39th on four over.

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