Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following piece from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.
By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
GRAEME MCDOWELL DENTED TIGER WOODS’S battered reputation a little more with his play-off win over golf’s fallen idol in the Chevron World Challenge. But the Portrush star still ensured himself a place on the 14-time major winner’s Christmas card list when he insisted that it isn’t the end of an aura for the former world No 1. Only time will tell if he was being kind or prescient.
Woods had never before failed to win a professional tournament when leading by three shots or more entering the final round. But while McDowell came from four back to tie thanks to a dramatic 20 footer at the last and then claimed the title in sudden death by draining an almost identical 20 footer for another birdie, he reckons it won’t be long before Woods regains his mojo and the air of invincibility that made him golf’s ultimate predator.
Still pinching himself after a dream year that brought him his first major win at the US Open and a jump to a career high seventh in the world, McDowell said:
“I’m definitely a guy who says that golf needs Tiger Woods and we need him back winning tournaments. I think he can play his way back into having that mystique again. He used to appear invincible. Of course he’s made himself appear more human in the last 12 months. At the end of the day, we’re all humans and we all make mistakes and we all hit bad golf shots. But there’s something a bit special about his golf game, and I fully expect that mystique to return as the golf clubs start doing the talking again.”
McDowell’s win at the Chevron World Challenge was his fourth individual victory of the season following triumphs at Celtic Manor, Pebble Beach and Valderrama. He was also Europe’s solid gold hero in the Ryder Cup, where he secured the winning point with a gutsy victory over Hunter Mahan in the anchor singles.
Few expected McDowell to come from behind and deny Woods the victory he needed in Los Angeles to avoid the first winless season of his professional career. Tiger’s caddie Steve Williams certainly didn’t appear to think so as he cheekily took off his caddie’s bib as McDowell sized up the 20 foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. As Williams shamelessly showed off his sponsor’s logo for the cameras once more, McDowell showed why he is a highly paid sportsman for something other than carrying a golf bag and reading double breaking putts. His 2010 season surpassed his wildest dreams, even if he did always believe that he was capable of doing something big in the game.
Reflecting on his two Tiger-killing birdies on the 18th, McDowell said: “They’re the kind of putts that you make them and you can’t really believe it afterwards. They were the stuff of dreams and 2010 has been the stuff of dreams. It’s been that kind of year. Not quite sure why.”
If McDowell was too modest to say why, we’ll do it for him. Hard work, self-belief, talent and sheer, blood-minded determination. That’s why.
Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.
(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)