Graeme McDowell Ends Drought by Winning Woods’s World Challenge

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland ended a two-year winless drought with his second victory at golf’s World Challenge, an event hosted by Tiger Woods.

McDowell shot a 4-under-par 68 during yesterday’s final round at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, and finished with a four-round total of 17-under 271, two shots better than runner-up Keegan Bradley. Bo Van Pelt was third and Woods, the defending champion, tied Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler for fourth place at 9 under in the 18-player field.

McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open winner, received $1.2 million for his first victory in two years. McDowell, 33, previously won the World Challenge in 2010 when he rallied from a four-shot final-round deficit and beat Woods in a playoff.

“Just over the moon to kind of get the job done,” McDowell said. “It’s been a hell of a two years since I sat here as a winner. We like to say that it’s all about the processes and going through the motions and trying to get better. But we all measure ourselves by the wins. I’m relieved to get across the line and take some nice confidence into this little off period I’ve got coming up.”

Bradley said there were no repeats of the third-round heckling he received in which a fan called him a cheater for using a belly putter. The U.S. Golf Association yesterday called the incident “deplorable” and said it was “unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator.”

The USGA and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of Scotland earlier in the week introduced a proposal to ban anchored putting strokes, a rule change that wouldn’t take effect until 2016. A stroke in which the putter’s butt-end is rested against a golfer’s body to create a pendulum-like swing has been used by players to win three of the past five major tournaments.

Belly Putter

At the 2011 PGA Championship, Bradley became the first golfer to win a major title using a belly putter.

The USGA said in a statement there is “no place in our game” for the heckling that Bradley received and that using an anchored putting stroke remains within the rules of golf.

“There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary,” the USGA said. “Rule changes address the future and not the past. Up until now and until such time as a rule change were to be implemented, golfers using an anchored stroke will have been playing by the rules of golf.”

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