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BC-GLF--Dominican Republic,4th Ld-Writethru

March 31, 2019
Graeme McDowell won the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship for his first PGA Tour title since November 2015, closing with a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes. McDowell took the lead from Stroud with a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th and closed with a bogey — lagging a 30-foot par putt to inches — on the par-4 18th. Stroud bogeyed the final two holes in a 69. Hughes also closed with a bogey for a 66.

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic (AP) — Graeme McDowell won the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship on Sunday for his first PGA Tour title since November 2015, closing with a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes.

“This is big. This is big. ... It’s been a rough few years,” said McDowell, the 39-year-old major champion from Northern Ireland.

McDowell took the lead from Stroud with a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th and closed with a bogey — lagging a 30-foot par putt to inches — on the par-4 18th. Stroud bogeyed the final two holes in a 69. Hughes also closed with a bogey for a 66.

McDowell set up the two-stroke swing on 17 with a 6-iron shot.

“I was standing on 16 green, I said to myself, ‘You’ve got to do something that’s tournament winning,’” McDowell said. “The shot to 17 was tournament-winning level. ... I’ve been struggling with my long-iron play all week, medium- and long-iron play. It’s a shot I’ve been working on on the range the last few days and it was a perfect 6-iron, it was a perfect number for me, and when it came off the bat I knew it was pretty good.”

McDowell finished at 18-under 270, rebounding from an opening 73 with consecutive 64s to take a one-stroke lead over Stroud into the final round. The 2010 U.S. Open champion, McDowell won his fourth PGA Tour title. He didn’t get an automatic Masters spot with the victory because the event was played opposite the World Golf Championships event in Texas.

“To be honest, Graeme earned it,” Stroud said. “He hit some great shots and 17 is a perfect example. He hit a lot of good shots today and didn’t get rewarded. He got rewarded there.”

Stroud faltered after birdieing the par-5 14th and par-4 15th to take the lead.

“I hit the ball really poorly today and I did a really, really good job of making awesome pars, making some birdies when I had a chance,” Stroud said. “I just hit it pretty poorly, and to have a chance to win hitting it that poorly makes me feel pretty good. Even coming down the last two holes, I hit a pretty poor chip on 17 after hitting a horrendous 6-iron. That’s a perfect 6-iron for me.”

Jonathan Byrd (66) was fourth at 16 under, and Chip McDaniel (63) and Kelly Kraft (68) followed at 15 under.

Second-round leader Sungjae Im, likely needing a victory to get into the top 50 in the world and earn a Masters spot, had a 71 to tie for seventh at 14 under.