Graeme McDowell said his first appearance in five years at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters “exceeded expectations” after the four-time Ryder Cup star carded a closing 69 to finish eight-under-par at Doha Golf Club.
McDowell, 37, fired four birdies in his last seven holes to conclude a week that started with rounds of 66, 75 and 70. The Florida-based Northern Irishman was competing in his first tournament since the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf in Melbourne in late November.
“I actually exceeded my expectations this week. Only one part of my game let me down – I drove the ball pretty awfully – but the rest of my game was definitely at a competitive level and bodes well. This was very good on a lot of levels,” McDowell said.
“I’ve always been a fan of this tournament and I’ve always been a fan of the course here. The conditions are usually tougher than they were this week; I’m not sure I’ve ever spent a week in Doha when the winds have been this benign. The golf course was in fantastic shape and the greens are phenomenal.
“It’s my first time back to Doha in five years so it’s great to see the way the city has expanded and the way the skyline has got bigger and bigger as it prepares for 2022. St. Regis Hotel was magnificent, great hospitality and I really, really enjoyed my week.”
McDowell had spoken earlier of his eagerness to regain the form that has earned him 10 European Tour titles and three PGA TOUR victories, including his historic win at the 2010 US Open.
McDowell was a mainstay of the Ryder Cup team from 2008 and part of winning sides in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but after missing out last year, he’s determined to regain his place for next year’s edition in France.
“I played the previous four, missed last year and was disappointed not to be there,” McDowell said.
“Like I’ve talked about, it’s a long road back to where I want to be but this week was a couple of steps down that road. I’m looking forward to going to Dubai and continuing to work on my game.”
Among other star draws, four-time Major winner Ernie Els – the 2005 champion – finished 11-under after a 68, World Number 10 Alex Noren (70) was nine-under and two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer (73) was five-under.
In the morning, Thorbjørn Olesen recorded the second hole-in-one of the tournament, hitting the target at the 13th with an eight-iron from 182 yards.
However, the 27-year-old Dane didn’t earn anything for his achievement unlike England’s Chris Paisley, who aced the 17th on Friday to win US$150,000 from Qatar Duty Free, the tournament’s Hole-in-One Sponsor.