Graeme McDowell ready to take the top spot
Graeme McDowell put on a brave face after a disappointing end to the Singapore Open yesterday.
In hot pursuit of Martin Kaymer in the European Tour's Race to Dubai, McDowell struck a superb second onto the green at Sentosa Golf Club's par-five finishing hole, leaving him with two putts for a birdie and a share of second place behind Adam Scott.
However, the US Open champion left his eagle putt well short and then fluffed his crucial birdie chance from eight feet, leaving him with a three-putt par and tied for third with Sweden's Rikard Karlberg.
The missed birdie putt cost McDowell €130,000 in prize money and left Germany's Kaymer with a cushion of more than €368,000 with two events left on the calendar.
The European Tour 2010 season culminates in the €7.5m Dubai World Championship, and €7.5m more is divided between the top 15 players in the Race to Dubai standings.
“I was disappointed to have finished on a sour note there,” said McDowell.
“I hit two decent shots and walked off with a five but that's golf. It has been a very productive week and I certainly would have accepted that.”
The Northern Irishman will have the chance to eat into Kaymer's lead some more this week at the Hong Kong Open, which the German has decided to skip.
“It’s still a great week for me. I’m playing in Hong Kong and Martin is not,” said McDowell.
“I'm still very happy with my game, very positive about how I’ve been swinging the club this week and I hope to take this great form to Hong Kong.”
A win this week would net McDowell €301,000 with €200,000 up for grabs for the runner-up.
Australia’s Adam Scott cruised to a three-shot victory at the $6 million Singapore Open to become the first three-time winner of the weather-hit event.
The Australian finished the co-sanctioned tournament on 17-under-par, with Denmark's Anders Hansen second and McDowell tied for third with Karlberg on 13-under-par.
McDowell said he was looking forward to the season finale at the end of the month and was determined to grab his opportunity in Hong Kong.
“I feel really privileged to be in this position, going into the final stages of the Race to Dubai,” said the 31-year-old.
“Obviously it’s a big week required in Hong Kong to be as close to Martin as I can, considering the season he has had.”
The 30-year-old Scott, a winner here in 2005 and 2006, sealed a three-shot victory over Hansen with a sublime 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a closing three-under 68.
The win was Scott's seventh on the European Tour and first since winning the Qatar Masters in 2008.
The other benefit for McDowell’s runner-up finish was that he swapped places with countryman Rory McIlroy, going to a career high of ninth in the world rankings.
That will give McDowell the bragging rights over his great friend for the time being, although it’s also a great incentive for the Holywood player to come back with a bang in Hong Kong after taking an unscheduled break last week.
Luke Donald, at eight in the current standing, is within striking distance of both Ulstermen as they seek to move further towards the number one spot.