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December 3, 2012

McDowell ends drought with World Challenge win

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Graeme McDowell could think of no better way to head home for a 10-week holiday that to win for the first time in two years.

And he couldn’t have found a better place to end the drought than Sherwood Country Club.

Even with the course playing longer than ever in a light rain, McDowell closed with a 4-under 68 on Sunday and held off Keegan Bradley with a pair of superb short-game shots that carried him to a three-shot win in the World Challenge.

It was the 10th time in 12 rounds at Sherwood that McDowell has shot in the 60s, and he extended his dominance on the course that Jack Nicklaus carved out among the foothills of Conejo Valley. In three appearances, McDowell has won twice and was runner-up.

But this one was meaningful in its own right.

“This really caps off my season,” McDowell said. “We try not to put winning on a pedestal, but this one feels very sweet because it’s been a grind all year.”

McDowell won for the first time since he beat Tiger Woods in a playoff at Sherwood to close out a dream season in 2010 that included his first major at the U.S. Open and the winning point for Europe at the Ryder Cup.

This win followed a year of frustration. He played in the final group of the U.S. Open and British Open but came up short, and he lost some enthusiasm going into tournaments late in the year. He talked all week about a 10-week break, some of it in Northern Ireland and the rest in Orlando, Fla., where he just built a new house and he’s opening a tavern outside the gates of Lake Nona.

It was the perfect way to leave golf for the next few months.

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