Graeme McDowell has moved to the top of the Race to Dubai standings by winning the Volvo World Matchplay Championship in Bulgaria.
Last year’s runner up came from behind to defeat Thongchai Jaidee 2&1 in a closely contested final at the Gary Player designed Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach resort.
McDowell’s opponent in the quarter-final was Nicolas Colsaerts, to whom he lost in last year’s final. But McDowell got the better of the Belgian this time around, beating him 2&1 and then went on to defeat Branden Grace 3&2 in the semi-final.
Despite being one down at the turn in the final, McDowell rallied to win three of four holes from the 12th to claim the €800,000 first prize and move to seventh in the Official Golf World Rankings.
“Obviously it’s a nice day and a great trophy,” said McDowell. “I talked about it all week about the prestige of this event and how many great champions, and nice to add my name to that list of legends.
“We talked a lot about what Volvo have done with this event, what they have done with golf around the world and coming to Bulgaria this week obviously was a brave move, but I think it's paid off.
“Sitting here with the trophy I'm going to say great things about the place but I think if you talk to all the players, I think everyone enjoyed themselves, everyone enjoyed the golf course.”
“It was a little bit more tentative this afternoon,” added McDowell, who won the RBC Heritage on the US PGA Tour last month. “It was tough to keep that level of golf up all weekend, and the key putts really this afternoon were with the par saves on nine and ten - they were massive.
“I sensed from Thongchai after that that he was starting to fatigue a little bit; I really sensed a bit of an opening. I just had to hit the shots and I did that well coming down the stretch. The mistake he made on 14 and then the birdie I made on 15 was really the telling stuff.
“Like I say, it’s great to put my name on the trophy. I'm looking across to see Montgomerie and Westwood just popping off the trophy at me, great European Tour legends, Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, the history of this event, it's fantastic.
Here are the clubs in McDowell’s bag that earned him his matchplay win:
Driver: Cleveland Classic 290 (Miyazaki Kusala Indigo 56 shaft), 9 degrees
3-Wood: Cleveland Launcher FL, 14 degrees
Hybrid: Adams Idea a7 PNT, 22 degrees
Utility Irons: Cleveland 588 MT; (5-9): Srixon Z-TX II; (PW): Cleveland 588 PF
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX (52 degrees); Cleveland 588 RTX (58 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey White Hot #7
Ball: Srixon Z Star XV3