Graeme McDowell finishes third at the RSM Classic
Ulster player moves back into the world’s top-55 in the latest rankings as Kevin Kisner wins tournament
Graeme McDowell: But for a self-inflicted error on the first hole of Saturday’s third round, McDowell would have finished in a share of second. Photograph: AP Photo
Although he failed to make it back-to-back wins on the PGA Tour, Graeme McDowell finished third behind Kevin Kisner in the RSM Classic, formerly known as The McGladrey, and moved back into the world’s top-55 in the latest rankings.
Kisner, a 31-year-old American, claimed a maiden tour win with a closing round of 64. It was an overdue success, for Kisner had three second place finishes on the PGA Tour in the 2015 and was recently runner-up to Russell Knox in the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.
This time, there was no mistake as Kisner – who had finished in the top-two in five of his last 20 tournaments – completed the job with a final round 64 for 22-under-par 260, which gave him six shots to spare over runner-up Kevin Chappell with McDowell a further shot adrift alone in third.
Kisner became the sixth first-time winner in seven events on the wraparound 2015/’16 season on the PGA Tour.
For McDowell, winner of the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico last week which brought with it an invite to the Masters next April, it was further confirmation of his return to form. In shooting a final round 67 for 267, the Ulsterman claimed third place. He had four birdies – first, fifth, 11thand 15th – and a lone bogey on the 15th.
As he explained afterwards, “We’ve been doing a lot of lift, clean, and place in the last few weeks. I’d been told about three times walking to the first tee that it was ball down today. I literally just got into automatic pilot mode in the first fairway. Before I realised that, Michael Kim is looking at me funny.
“I’m like, ‘Okay, I just picked this ball up. What an idiot’. It was such an automatic pilot thing. It was a real game changer potential right there. I mean, I get it up and down for (par) four, but if I make bogey, who knows what happens to do round from there? So it was a big four, and makes for a better story in the end as well.”
McDowell went out with intent to chase down Kisner but, this time, there was no let-up from the American in his quest for a maiden tour win. Kisner got off to a hot start with birdies on the second, fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth holes and played solid golf on the run home with eight pars and a birdie on the 15th to coast home.