SOTOGRANDE, Spain – Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland shot a closing 2-over-par 74 to win the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama and complete his third victory of 2010.
The Northern Irishman finished two shots ahead of compatriot Gareth Maybin, whose final round of 76 left him in a share of second with Ireland’s Damien McGrane (72) and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen (69).
McDowell, who won the Wales Open and the U.S. Open in June, is now expected to move to No. 10 when golf’s latest world rankings are published on Monday.
Those rankings will be topped by England’s Lee Westwood, who will replace Tiger Woods as No. 1 after Martin Kaymer, needing a top-two finish in Spain, shot a closing 75 to finish in joint 21st place, 10 shots behind the winner.
Kaymer also finds his lead in Europe’s Race to Dubai money list under threat. By winning the ?500,000 ($697,000) first prize, McDowell cut Kaymer’s advantage to ?528,561.
“I am really trying to put the shine on a great season,” McDowell said. “I didn’t just want to rest on my laurels and just cruise through to Dubai. I have punched a hole in Martin’s lead here and now we go on to Shanghai where I really intend to give him a run for his money.
“I am starting to move into the upper echelons of golf and starting to believe in myself. To see Lee Westwood move to No.1 is great for him after playing so well for the last couple of years and great for European golf. And of course now I will be trying to chase him down.”
McDowell was made to fight all the way for his victory. He was even behind McGrane with three holes remaining after the 2008 China Open Champion holed a bunker shot for birdie at the par-3 15th.
But McGrane’s lead was shortlived. After driving behind a tree at the next hole, he ran up a double bogey and dropped further shots at each of the final two holes.
“To hand it all back the way I did was very disappointing,” McGrane said. “I got fliers out of bad lies that I didn’t need – but that’s Valderrama for you – when the course bites it bites hard.”
Maybin was within one shot of McDowell playing Valderrama’s feared 17th, but he too fell away, putting his third shot into water guarding the green and then driving into trees at the last.
Those errors saw McGrane and Maybin fall back alongside Kjeldsen, who earlier in the day shot a 3-under 69 despite the heavy winds and who might now be regarded as something of a Valderrama specialist.
The Dane was the winner when the course, the venue for the 1997 Ryder Cup, last hosted the Volvo Masters in 2008.