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Graeme McDowell hopes 'tournament-winning' shot can kick-start bid to get back to the top

 

Number one: Graeme McDowell won in Dominican Republic
Number one: Graeme McDowell won in Dominican Republic

By Phil Casey

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell claimed his first title since 2015 with victory in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.

McDowell carded five birdies and two bogeys in a closing 69 to finish 18-under par, a shot ahead of Canada's Mackenzie Hughes and American Chris Stroud, who had held a one-shot lead with two holes to play.

However, while Stroud bogeyed the par-three 17th, playing partner McDowell hit a superb tee shot to six feet and converted the birdie putt before both players bogeyed the 18th.

The victory gives McDowell a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and will also lift the former US Open champion from 257th in the world to inside the top 150.

"This is a very sweet victory," the 39-year-old said. "I'm going to enjoy this one and hopefully we can use it as a springboard to get back to I need to be in this game.

"It's been a rough few years. It's been a grind. On the 16th green, I said to myself, 'You've got to do something that's tournament-winning'.

"The shot to 17 was tournament-winning level."

McDowell began the day with a one-shot lead and surged three clear thanks to three birdies in the first four holes, but Stroud birdied four holes in a row from the fourth and also picked up shots on the 14th and 15th to take the lead before suffering a costly finish.

Ireland's Paul Dunne, meanwhile, finished in a tie for 12th place following a final round of 71.

Elsewhere, Scotland's Stephen Gallacher celebrated his first European Tour win in five years as he triumphed at the Hero Indian Open.

The 44-year-old ended up a shot clear of Japan's Masahiro Kawamura, with whom he had shared the lead ahead of tackling the 18th.

That final hole saw Gallacher, who had started the final round three shots off the top, register the seventh birdie of his one-under-par 71, and a third in four holes.

That was some recovery after he had earlier hit a quadruple-bogey eight at the seventh, leaving him five shots off the lead.

Nine-under for the tournament, Gallacher - who was caddied by his son Jack - became a European Tour champion for a fourth time.

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