McDowell's win caps a record year for Ireland's tour players
Graeme McDowell’s wheelbarrow may have been full of greenbacks as he left the happy hunting ground that for him is Sherwood Country Club.
But his win – a second in three years at the venue for the end-of-season shindig – was more than just the icing on the cake for a quite remarkable year for Ireland’s tour players.
It constituted an unprecedented ninth win by five different players – North and South – in a season that, for most of them, has finally come to a close.
Although Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane are in South Africa for this week’s Nelson Mandela championship hoping to get a headstart in the new 2013 PGA European Tour season, for G-Mac and the rest the coming weeks provide time for clubs to be stacked away (at least competitively).
In the case of world number one Rory McIlroy, it will provide the chance to get to grips with his new Nike irons, woods and drivers.
McDowell’s victory – even if it came in an unofficial tournament, with no status on the PGA Tour – was due reward for a season in which he knocked on the door on a number of occasions, most specifically at the US Open in San Francisco in June where he was edged out by Webb Simpson.
It provided a bookend to a year where McIlroy’s five worldwide wins, including a second Major in the USPGA, was augmented by tournament wins in one guise or another by Michael Hoey, Shane Lowry, Pádraig Harrington and, lastly but no least, by McDowell.
The most immediate benefit for McDowell following his World Challenge win was to jump 10 places in the latest official world rankings, up to 14th, sandwiched between Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson. The greater benefit, though, is likely to going forward.
“This year has been frustrating born out of some great golf,” said McDowell.
Indeed, McDowell contended to the death in the US Open (eventually finishing runner-up) and was again in contention in the British Open (where he finished fifth) and admitted he probably did too much over the summer with the result he was drained by the time the Ryder Cup came about in September.
“I think it’s fair to say I was not at my best at the Ryder Cup. I was burned out. I was tired. I was running on fumes,” said McDowell, who took three weeks off afterwards to recharge the batteries. Now, it’s a case of recharging them again.