Graeme McDowell wins Saudi International, ends European Tour drought

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell is the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, ending a five-year drought on the European Tour.

Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, last won on the European Tour in the summer of 2014, when he won the Alstom Open de France for the second year in succession.

In early 2019, the Northern Irishman sat outside the top 250 on the Official World Golf Rankings, but after this win, he will move back inside the top 50 for the first time in four and a half years.

His final round did not start well, as he bogeyed the first hole, and he found himself two-over for the day after bogeying the 13th. However, birdies at 14 and 15 brought him back to -12, and he was able to par the last few holes of his final round to win the event by two shots.

Going out in the final group, McDowell was able to see what the chasing pack were putting on the board, and it would be the 2019 Saudi International champion, Dustin Johnson, that finished in solo second, two back from the Northern Irishman at -10.

Phil Mickelson made it two Americans inside the top three, as he finished in a tie at -9, alongside Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Malaysia’s Gavin Green.

Victor Dubuisson, the other man in the final group alongside McDowell, had a shocking final round, posting a four-over-par 74, dropping down into a tie for 6th, alongside Sergio Garcia, Thomas Detry, Abrahm Ancer and Ross Fisher.

British Open champion Shane Lowry and Alfred Dunhill Championship winner Pablo Larrazabal were among those finished the tournament at -5, in a tie for 13th, with World No.1 Brooks Koepka and European Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter a further shot back, just inside the top 20.

Haotong Li, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Ryan Fox and Andy Sullivan were also among those under par for the event, along with Lucas Herbert, last week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner.

It was another bad Sunday for Victor Perez, the Frenchman struggling in the final round for the second week running. He did so in Dubai last week, and Perez carded a 77 to drop from T4 down to T38, ending the week at -1.

43 players ended the tournament in the red numbers, with a further eight sitting at level-par, including the likes of Matt Wallace and Henrik Stenson, who both posted over-par rounds on Sunday afternoon.

Back at the top though, and it was Graeme McDowell that took home the spoils from the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, his first title on the European Tour in over five years.

The victory will see the major winner move back into the top 50 on the Official World Golf Rankings, and into the top five on the Race to Dubai list, along with joining fellow Lee Westwood, another player over the age of 40, towards the top of the Ryder Cup points list.

The European Tour continues on Thursday, with the second co-sanctioned event on the Australasian Tour, the ISPS Handa Vic Open.

Next: Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas already looking toward 2020 Olympics

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2020 Saudi International Final Leaderboard:

1 (-12): Graeme McDowell (NIR)

2 (-10): Dustin Johnson (USA)

T3 (-9): Thomas Pieters (BEL), Phil Mickelson (USA), Gavin Green (MAS)

Selected Others:

T6 (-7): Sergio Garcia (ESP), Thomas Detry (BEL), Victor Dubuisson (FRA)

T11 (-6): Matthieu Pavon (FRA), Dean Burmester (RSA)

T13 (-5): Shane Lowry (IRL), Pablo Larrazabal (ESP), Martin Kaymer (GER)

T17 (-4): Ian Poulter (ENG), Brooks Koepka (USA)

T21 (-3): Haotong Li (CHN), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA)

T27 (-2): Ryan Fox (NZL), Lucas Herbert (AUS), Andy Sullivan (ENG)

T38 (-1): Victor Perez (FRA), Søren Kjeldsen (DEN)

T44 (E): Henrik Stenson (SWE), Matt Wallace (ENG)

T52 (+1): Ernie Els (RSA), Nacho Elvira (ESP)

T56 (+2): Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP), Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL)