Ugly start costs McDowell in Tiger showdown


ORLANDO, Fla. – At the beginning of the final round it wouldn’t have been a surprise to envision Graeme McDowell winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

He was only a shot behind Tiger Woods and McDowell tracked down Woods 16 months earlier to win the Chevron World Challenge.

But things got sideways for McDowell immediately when his approach to the first hole ended with the ball in a fried-egg lie. He blasted out to the back bunker, failed to get up and down and quickly made double bogey to be three shots behind.

“Just not the start I had in mind,” McDowell said. “I let him ahead of me early and he was very tough to get close to after that.”

McDowell tried, though. He made birdie on No. 3 then drained a 50-footer for eagle on the par-5 sixth hole to close the gap a bit. Bogeys on Nos. 9, 12, 14 and 17 did him in and he shot 74 to end in second place, five behind Woods.

McDowell now feels that his game is in a place where he can contend on a weekly basis, a trait on which most of the top players pride themselves. It’s now off to the Houston Open, before heading to the Masters.

Although McDowell was a bit bummed with his second-place finish at Bay Hill, as usual, he took it in stride and chose to look at the positive.

“Great to have a front row seat watching maybe the greatest of all time doing what he does best, winning golf tournaments,” McDowell said.