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LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 21:  Graeme McDowell of the European team hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during the singles matches on the final day of the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club on September 21, 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 21: Graeme McDowell of the European team hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during the singles matches on the final day of the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club on September 21, 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Sam Greenwood

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 21: Graeme McDowell of the European team hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during the singles matches on the final day of the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club on September 21, 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Graeme McDowell can't wait to get his teeth into the “meat and bones” of the season after a stunning seven-under 65 left him just four shots adrift of winner Luke Donald in the Madrid Masters.

Victory was always “a big ask” for the Ulsterman (30) who went into the final round six shots adrift of joint leaders Donald and Welshman Rhys Davies, the eventual runner-up.

But he put in a full-blooded final round charge, getting to within two of the lead with four to play before settling for solo fourth on 17 under after an eight-birdie effort that he hopes will lead to greater things.

“I've no complaints, the damage was done on Saturday,” said McDowell, who earned 75,000 euro to move up two places to 22nd in the Ryder Cup race.

“I was trying to get to 18 under but it was great to come out there and play well. All in all it was a great day's work.

“I really haven't been in a winning position on the back nine on Sunday for a while so it's good to get those feelings and put your game under pressure and ask the questions.

“There is never a bad time to play well but this is the meat and bones of the season coming up.

“I have been saying for a few months now that my game is in good shape.”

Donald (32) ended four winless years of frustration when he eagled the par-five 16th to break out of a three-way tie with Rhys Davies and Italy's Francesco Molinari, closing with a 67 to the young Welshman's immaculate 68 to win by a stroke on 21 under par.

It was an important victory for Donald, whose status as the ultimate, money-making underachiever led an American writer to coin the phrase “Luke Donald Disease” to describe Britain's 10-year drought in the Majors despite the obvious talent.

Belfast Telegraph