x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Graeme McDowell is the third ace in Abu Dhabi

The Irish golfer follows Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Jose Manuel Lara by getting a hole-in-one on the 12th.

Graeme McDowell shot a hole-in-on on the 12th.
Graeme McDowell shot a hole-in-on on the 12th.

ABU DHABI // He called it “the worst lay-up in the history of lay-ups” yet Graeme McDowell could do nothing but smile as he watched, with bemusement, his penultimate shot on the 18th ricochet off the grandstand to roll within six feet of the hole.

The Northern Irishman, in sinking the resultant putt, finished his final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on 11-under par, placing him joint-third on the leaderboard alongside Tiger Woods and Thomas Bjorn, but behind compatriot Rory McIlroy and Robert Rock of England, the eventual winner.

It was a remarkable end to what proved a fascinating and flawless back nine. Having hit bogeys on the third and fifth holes to render his birdie on the second a distant memory, the 2010 US Open champion reached the turn at one-over. A hole-in-one on the 12th – the third ace of the tournament – kick-started his afternoon and was followed immediately with a chip-in from the fringe for a birdie. He picked up two further shots on the last two holes to finish his round four-under-par 68.

“Any time you come back in 31 shots on a Sunday, semi in the mix, is always a good day’s work,” the 32 year old said. “It was certainly an eventful last seven holes with a hole-in-one and a nice ricochet off the grandstand at the last.

“I’ve been playing golf a long time and a couple of things have never happened to me before this week; I’ve never broken my driver in the course of play like I did on Thursday and I’ve never saw a ball coming off the grandstand to six feet like that.”

McDowell’s ace on the 12th emulated the feats of Sergio Garcia and Jose Manuel Lara, who both eagled the par-three on Thursday, and the 2010 European Tour Golfer of the Year said Abu Dhabi’s tournament organisers will need to change something for next year.

“It was the third ace there of the week, so obviously they are going to have to do something about that hole; it’s obviously a little too straightforward,” McDowell said.

“A front right pin and I cut a little seven-iron there and it pitched right in the front fringe and just trickled up and disappeared. It’s my ninth hole-in-one in my golfing life and they are all pretty sweet.”