OHL Classic 2015
Round 4 - Graeme McDowell wins in a playoffNovember 16, 2015
Going more than two years without a win was enough time for Graeme McDowell to start asking himself the wrong questions.
Was his best golf behind him? Was he even good enough to win again?
He found his answer Monday morning in Mexico. McDowell made an 8-foot par putt on the 18th hole to stay in the game, and then he hit a 5-iron that grazed the edge of the cup and set up a 3-foot birdie to win a three-man playoff in the rain-delayed OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
''I dreamed of this day coming again,'' McDowell said. ''I thought it would be maybe not quite as soon as this, and I said to myself that I was really going to appreciate it. And I do appreciate it. This feels really nice.''
That par putt on the final hole of El Camaleon Golf Club gave McDowell a 5-under 66 to finish at 18-under 266. Even so, it looked as if that would only be good enough for second place. Russell Knox, coming off a victory last week in the HSBC Champions, had a one-shot lead and was full of confidence.
Knox, however, pulled his tee shot into the bunker in front of a steep lip, couldn't quite reach the green and missed a 12-foot par putt for a 66. Jason Bohn made tough par putts on four of his last five holes for a 68 to join the playoff.
It didn't last long.
McDowell, who looked tentative on tee shots and birdie putts over the final few holes, felt a surge of belief in the playoff. He drilled a 3-wood down the middle, and then wisely listened to caddie Ken Comboy, who recommended a 5-iron when McDowell wanted to hammer a 6-iron.
''It's as good a 5-iron as I've hit in a long time,'' McDowell said.
Knox missed the green to the left and failed to chip in. Bohn missed an 18-foot birdie putt. That left McDowell to tap in for his first victory since the 2013 French Open. And while it doesn't compare with his 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, it was more significant than just a PGA Tour event at the end of the year.
He was in the final year of his PGA Tour exemption, which was creeping into his mind. He had not finished in the top 10 in nine months dating to the Dubai Desert Classic. McDowell, who started the year at No. 15 in the world, plunged to No. 85 while trying to find the balance of golf and spending time with his wife and 1-year-old daughter.
''It's been a rough year for all the right reasons,'' he said. ''I've been enjoying life off the golf course with my beautiful family. Golf hasn't been the priority it should be. But the last three or four months I got back to where I want to be.''
McDowell and Knox were tied at 19 under when they returned Monday to complete the final round.
Knox birdied the par-5 13th to pull ahead, only to drop a shot on the tough 14th with a tee shot into the left rough and wind so strong that he couldn't reach the green.
McDowell was well short on a 12-foot birdie putt for the lead on the par-3 15th, and he looked even more tentative on the next hole when he three-putted from 45 feet, leaving his first putt some 10 feet short. It looked as though he wouldn't get another chance.
''Russell Knox is free swinging coming off the best week of his life,'' McDowell said when he finished his round.
Knox made a tough up-and-down for par on the 17th hole by making a 5-foot putt into the thick, wet grain. But his chip was short on the 18th, the par putt for his second straight victory was left all the day, and that was the opening McDowell needed.
Derek Fathauer, the 54-hole leader, birdied the last hole for a 71 to finish two shots behind.
McDowell wasn't planning on playing in Mexico except for his poor year. He failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and he chose to skip the final two events on the European Tour because of his mediocre standing in the Race to Dubai. The idea was to put 2015 behind him and get an early start on the new PGA Tour season.
It turned out to be a great decision.
The victory assures McDowell will be in the Masters next year, along with the PGA Championship and The Players Championship. Ranking points from those events will come in handy during qualifying in 2016 for the Ryder Cup and for the Olympics.
Round 4 - Rain forces Monday finishNovember 15, 2015
Russell Knox had six birdies in 11 holes and was tied with Graeme McDowell when the fourth round of the rain-delayed OHL Classic at Mayakoba was stopped Sunday.
McDowell birdied the par-5 13th before it was too dark to continue. Knox was on the 13th hole.
They were at 19-under par.
It will be the second straight week that a PGA Tour event went to Monday because of rain. That hasn't happened in 10 years.
Knox won the HSBC Champions last week in Shanghai. He can become the first player since Camilo Villegas in 2008 to win his first two PGA Tour titles in successive weeks.
Jason Bohn was at 17 under through 12 holes.
Derek Fathauer, the 54-hole leader, was 1 over for the day and four shots back.
Round 3 - Derek Fathauer takes over leadNovember 15, 2015
Derek Fathauer played bogey-free Saturday on his way to another 6-under 66 that gave him a one-shot lead in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and a chance to extend an unusual streak on the PGA Tour.
First-time winners have captured all five of the PGA Tour events at the start of the wraparound season.
Fathauer would love to make it six in a row.
''I've just got to have fun, play golf, play my game, and whatever happens will happen,'' he said.
Fathauer was at 16-under 197 and led by one shot over Jason Bohn, who missed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole at El Camaleon Golf Club. Bohn took the lead on the par-5 13th hole with a 25-foot eagle putt right before the third round was halted for nearly 90 minutes because of storms in the area. Bohn had to scramble for pars late in his round and couldn't save the last one. He shot a 65.
Russell Knox, coming off his first win last week in Shanghai at the HSBC Champions, also made bogey on the last hole for a 65. He was at 13-under 200, along with Justin Leonard (67), Graeme McDowell (70) and PGA Tour rookie Harold Varner III, who made an 18-foot par putt on the last hole for a 68.
Bohn was the 54-hole leader at Mayakoba a year ago until closing with a 74.
''I don't want to do what I did last year on Sunday,'' Bohn said. ''The only thing I can draw on is how I've been playing. I've got to embrace it, have fun and realize where I am. If I give myself enough chances, I'm going to win one.''
He already has come close twice this year. Bohn finished one shot out of a playoff in the season-opening Frys.com Open, courtesy for a flubbed pitch. A week later in Las Vegas, he finished one shot out of the lead.
McDowell was the 36-hole leader, except that didn't last long. He took another double bogey on the par-4 opening hole, and now has played it at 5 over for the week. McDowell followed with a bogey and spent the rest of the round trying to catch up. A 12-foot birdie on the 17th allowed him to salvage a 70.
''I've got to get past that first hole, which is kind of killing me,'' McDowell said. ''The game is in really good shape. Apart from two driver swings, I'm really happy with the general progress.''
He also hit a drive well right on the par-5 13th that led to a bogey.
Leonard appeared to be the one most affected by the storm delay. He was tied for the lead at 15 under after a birdie on the par-5 13th. When play resumed, he came up short of the green at the 14th, hit a nice chip-and-run to just outside 4 feet and missed the putt. On the par-3 15th, Leonard went left of the pin and down a slope and failed to save par. He was solid the rest of the way and still has a good chance Sunday.
Leonard hasn't had a top 10 in nearly two years and has said he is trimming is schedule this year to spend more time with his wife and four children. He moved to Colorado in August, and the courses closed Nov. 1. So he went to Arizona for a few days of practice and showed up fresh. He said the mental hurdle in cutting back his schedule was to realize ''I'm not going to forget how to swing a club, I'm not going to forget how to play the game.''
Johnson Wagner had a third straight 67 and was four shots behind. The group at 11-under 202 included Patrick Rodgers (69) and Freddie Jacobson, whose 63 was the low score of the third round. Arizona State senior Jon Rahm of Spain had a 66 and was six shots behind. Rahm tied for fifth in the Phoenix Open last season.
Round 2 - Graeme McDowell takes over lead with 63November 14, 2015
A day after an almost calamitous start to the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Graeme McDowell found himself in an unexpected position, the halfway leader after the second round at the PGA Tour event in Mexico on Friday.
The Northern Irishman rediscovered his long game and caught fire with his putter to reel off nine birdies in an eight-under-par 63 on the El Camaleon course in Playa del Carmen.
“I drove the ball much, much better today than yesterday and putted just as good, really seeing these greens well, putting decisively and making a few,” McDowell told PGATour.com after posting a 12-under 130 total, one shot better than American Derek Fathauer (66) and two ahead of South Korean Kim Si-woo (64) and Harold Varner III (62).
McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, almost checked out of the tournament before he had barely started.
He sprayed his drive out-of-bounds at the first hole on Thursday, reloaded and then almost met the same fate with his second drive (his third shot).
Had the second drive been out-of-bounds too, he would have been forced to play again from the tee, but the ball stopped narrowly in play and he salvaged what in the end was a good double-bogey.
“I hit my second ball further right than I hit my first,” said the 36-year-old Northern Irishman known in the golf world as G-Mac. “I figured I could be going home very very soon. Thankfully my second ball kicked in-bounds.”
McDowell is having a mediocre year by his own standards and his world ranking has dropped to 85th, but he believes he is trending in the right direction.
“This is a result of three or four months of grinding,” he said of his lofty position. “I’ve been working hard on my swing.
“It’s been a frustrating year but that’s the game of golf we know and love and you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth and keep trying.”
Round 1 - Four lead with opening 65sNovember 13, 2015
Justin Leonard got off to a quick start in what he expects to be his shortest season, opening with a 6-under 65 on Thursday in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba to share the lead with Aaron Baddeley, Shawn Stefani and Derek Fathauer.
Leonard, who moved from Dallas to Colorado during the summer, said he plans to play only 12 events this season to spend more time with his wife and four children. The former British Open champion is using his one-time exemption for being top 50 on the PGA Tour's career money list.
The 43-year-old Leonard played bogey-free at El Camaleon before the wind and rain arrived and stopped play for 1 hour, 14 minutes. The first round was suspended because of darkness, and 21 players did not finish.
Stefani was a runner-up last year at Mayakoba to Charley Hoffman.
Baddeley, a three-time winner, lost his card last season and failed to get it back through the Web.com Tour Finals. He is playing as a past champion, and got into the Mexico event through a top-10 finish last week. He tied for fourth in the rain-plagued Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.
D.J. Trahan, another past champion, also got into Mayakoba through a top 10 in Mississippi. He was in a large group at 66 that included Charles Howell III and Patton Kizzire, who won the Web.com Tour money title last season.
Leonard is approaching two years since his last top 10 on the PGA Tour. He was born and raised in Dallas, so it was a big move to take the family to Aspen. But it's part of a bigger plan to make the transition to full-time golf to being with his four children, ages 5 through 12.
''I've just been out here 21 or 22 years and my kids are growing up,'' Leonard said. ''And I get to do a lot of things, but I miss a lot of things, too. We just moved to Colorado in August, and I want to just play the tournaments that I'm excited to go play and see what I can do.''
He referenced Steve Stricker, who in 2013 decided to trim his schedule to be at home more often.
''So many decisions I've made over the last 25 years have been about golf,'' Leonard said. ''So when we started talking about moving, I said, 'Let's just take golf out of it. Where are going to be the happiest and most excited when we get on an airplane to go home?' And we're there.''
Matt Kuchar, at No. 16 in the world the highest-ranked player at Mayakoba, opened with a 72. He was in the same group as Mississippi winner Peter Malnati, who shot a 68, and HSBC Champions winner Russell Knox, who had a 70.
Knox is playing his fifth straight week, going from Napa, California, to Las Vegas to Malaysia to Shanghai and now Mexico.
Former PGA champions Keegan Bradley, whose world ranking has plunged to No. 65, was in the group at 67 that included Erik Compton, Patrick Rodgers and Graeme McDowell, who overcame a double bogey on his opening hole by making five straight birdies.
The best start belonged to Thomas Aiken of South Africa. Starting on the par-3 10th, he made a hole-in-one and then followed that with two straight birdies. But his round fell apart at the end with a quadruple-bogey 9 on the seventh hole that led to a 74.
Carlos Ortiz of Mexico opened with a 68.