Harrington withdraws from Wentworth
McDowell up to seventh in world rankings after victory over Jaidee in the Match Play in Bulgaria
Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington watches his shot from the 10th tee during the second round of The Players Championship PGA golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on May 10th. Photograph: Chris Keane/Reuters
Pádraig Harrington has withdrawn from this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
The Dubliner, 66th in the latest world rankings, has opted to take a week off after three tournaments this month, in which he missed one cut (Wells Fargo), finished in a tie for 75th (The Players Championship) and, last weekend, in a share of 48th place at the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas.
Graeme McDowell has risen one place to seventh in the world rankings after his win at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria yesterday. The Northern Irishman saw off Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, ranked 49th, to win what was his second title in his last three events. There was no change among the top six in the rankings, with Tiger Woods continuing to lead the way ahead of McDowell’s compatriot Rory McIlroy.
After winning one tournament synonymous with Wentworth, McDowell has turned his attention to improving his record in the event still held at the European Tour’s headquarters.
McDowell believes the gamble of taking the 24-man event to Bulgaria paid off despite admitting the field needs to be stronger and that the spectacular course on the edge of the Black Sea has one or two “funky” holes. The former US Open champion will now be hoping to maintain his superb form at Wentworth on Thursday, an event in which he has missed the cut for the last two years and has just one top-15 finish in 10 attempts.
“We have been talking all week about how prestigious this event is. I can’t say how excited I am to win it and add my name to that list of legends,” McDowell said of his Match Play triumph, with the winner’s cheque of €800,000 taking him top of the Race to Dubai. “It was not quite the salubrious golf of this morning (when he was eight under in beating Branden Grace 3&2 in the semi-final). It was a little more tentative, there was a lot on the line.
“I played strongly coming in and I sensed Thongchai was a little fatigued. I really tried to feed off that and show him I was really up for it. He made his first mistake on the 14th and the 15th has been kind to me all week.”
Jaidee had the consolation of €500,000 as runner-up, but could be forgiven for wondering how he failed to turn an early advantage into a decisive lead. Birdies at the second and fourth took the former Thai paratrooper two up, but he missed from eight feet to go further ahead on the next after McDowell had scrambled a par, despite taking a penalty drop from an unplayable lie left of the green.
McDowell won the seventh with a birdie to reduce his deficit but was grateful to see Jaidee miss from six feet on the next and then holed lengthy par putts on the ninth and 10th to stay in touch.
“The par putts on the fifth, ninth and 10th were huge, they were the turning points,” admitted McDowell, who pitched to two feet on the 12th for a winning birdie to get back on level terms.
Jaidee then pulled his drive into a bush on the 14th and the resulting bogey handed McDowell the lead for the first time, which he increased with a birdie from close range on the 15th.
Official world rankings
1 Tiger Woods 13.5308
2 Rory McIlroy 10.2255
3 Adam Scott 7.7247
4 Justin Rose 6.4709
5 Brandt Snedeker 6.3297
6 Luke Donald 6.2514
7 Graeme McDowell 5.8985
8 Louis Oosthuizen 5.6558
9 Phil Mickelson 5.2561
10 Steve Stricker 5.2221
11 Keegan Bradley 5.1498
12 Lee Westwood 5.1183
13 Matt Kuchar 5.0849
14 Sergio Garcia 4.9128
15 Charl Schwartzel
16 Webb Simpson 4.6790
17 Ian Poulter 4.6746
18 Bubba Watson 4.6442
19 Dustin Johnson 4.4103
20 Jason Dufner 4.2555.