Saudi International R3

Graeme McDowell holds nerve in ‘brutal’ conditions to take one shot lead

January 30 – February 02
Royal Green G&CC, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
$3,500,000
Round 1, Round 2, Round 4


Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers, following an entertaining third round that saw some of the world’s leading players make their move at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

Saudi International R3 - Graeme McDowell holds nerve
Graeme McDowell. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

McDowell’s four under round of 66, taking him to -12, started in steady fashion with a level-par front nine but he showed his class and tenacity around the turn with brutal winds and challenging pin positions testing the whole field.

Sparked into life by a 20ft par-saving putt on the 9th, McDowell went on a birdie-blitz, draining from the fringe on the 12th and 13th hole – the former including clattering the pin, the latter a monster putt on the course’s most difficult hole.

A wayward drive on 18 threatened to tarnish a terrific back nine played in Royal Greens’ now infamous afternoon Red Sea winds, but the 40-year-old recovered with a sumptuous approach to six-feet from 180-yards out, before making birdie and claim the outright lead at 12-under-par heading into Sunday’s final round.


“My putt on nine was massive as I’d just bogeyed eight and the putter was cold,” said McDowell.

“Those are the putts you look back on the round and say ‘that was the one’. Those two putts from off the green on 12 and 13 are just massive bonuses at that point. You can’t expect to make those type of putts. Conditions were very tough today so I’m very pleased with that back nine.”

McDowell will be reunited with former 2014 Ryder Cup playing partner Victor Dubuisson in Sunday’s final pairing, following the Frenchman’s flawless bogey-free five under 65.

Dubuisson (-11) mastered the wind superbly throughout his round making three early birdies in the first four holes to put himself in contention for a first win on tour since the 2015 Turkish Open.

“It was just the kind of day where everything goes well,” said Dubuisson.

“I made a few mistakes on yardage with the wind and I managed to save par each time. I told my caddie it’s going to be very windy, let’s be a little more aggressive and relaxed despite the wind.”

Saudi International R3 - Graeme McDowell holds nerve
Victor Dubuisson. (Photo by Andrew Redington/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images)

Malaysia’s Gavin Green was unable to hit the heights of his opening rounds of 64 & 67 but a level-par 70 on Saturday keeps him three off the lead on -9 in sole third position.

“It was brutal out there and couple of pins, they were tucked so far in corners,” said Green.

“All we did was play to the middle of the greens and just try and take our 2-putt and make par. Because par is a good score today.”

The American trio of superstars Dustin Johnson (-7), World Number 1 Brooks Koepka (-6) and legend Phil Mickelson (-6) are all ominously within touching distance of the leaders.

Defending champion Johnson started his day with a bang grabbing four consecutive birdies in the first four holes, before losing ground on the tricky back nine.

“Tomorrow I’m going to have to go out and get off to another start like I did today and then finish it off a little better,” said Johnson.


Koepka took advantage of the more benign morning conditions in his round of 65 – the joint lowest round of the day alongside Dubuisson and Ian Poulter (-5). The world’s leading player’s put on a driving masterclass with his putter finally getting hot after a frustrating start to the tournament.

“I drove it really well today and I just made more putts,” said Koepka. “I’ve putted well all week they just haven’t fallen, but today they finally fell.”

Tickets for the Saudi International’s final day remain on sale, priced at 50 SAR per day with exclusive concert tickets start at 75 SAR

For more tournament information, visit www.saudiinternational.com


Read next

Waste Management Phoenix Open R1

Tours
By GT Editor
Pos.
Player
Nat
To Par
R1
R2
R3
Total
1
Graeme McDowell
NIR
-12
64
68
66
198
2
Victor Dubuisson
FRA
-11
69
65
65
199
3
Gavin Green
MAS
-9
64
67
70
201
T4
Dustin Johnson
USA
-7
67
68
68
203
T4
Renato Paratore
ITA
-7
68
65
70
203
T4
Victor Perez
FRA
-7
65
65
73
203
T7
Brooks Koepka
USA
-6
70
69
65
204
T7
Phil Mickelson
USA
-6
66
70
68
204
T7
Thomas Detry
BEL
-6
73
66
65
204
T10
Ashun Wu
CHI
-5
71
66
68
205
T10
Grant Forrest
SCO
-5
73
66
66
205
T10
Henrik Stenson
SWE
-5
65
70
70
205
T10
Ian Poulter
ENG
-5
72
68
65
205
T10
Jordan Smith
ENG
-5
71
67
67
205
T10
Ross Fisher
ENG
-5
66
68
71
205
T16
Abraham Ancer
USA
-4
69
70
67
206
T16
Adria Arnaus
ESP
-4
65
74
67
206
T16
Matthieu Pavon
FRA
-4
68
71
67
206
T16
Shane Lowry
IRL
-4
69
67
70
206
T16
Thomas Pieters
BEL
-4
70
67
69
206
T21
Benjamin Hebert
FRA
-3
71
69
67
207
T21
Dean Burmester
RSA
-3
71
68
68
207
T21
Francesco Laporta
ITA
-3
67
68
72
207
T21
Jhonattan Vegas
VEN
-3
65
71
71
207
T21
Matthias Schwab
AUT
-3
69
72
66
207
T21
Sergio Garcia
ESP
-3
69
68
70
207
T27
Aaron Rai
ENG
-2
66
71
71
208
T27
Adrian Meronk
POL
-2
68
70
70
208
T27
Adrian Otaegui
ESP
-2
69
71
68
208
T27
Alexander Bjoerk
SWE
-2
68
69
71
208
T27
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
RSA
-2
68
73
67
208
T27
David Howell
ENG
-2
68
69
71
208
T27
Justin Harding
RSA
-2
68
73
67
208
T27
Maximilian Kieffer
GER
-2
70
71
67
208
T27
Richard McEvoy
ENG
-2
69
68
71
208
T27
Sean Crocker
USA
-2
68
68
72
208
T37
Alexander Levy
FRA
-1
69
70
70
209
T37
Antoine Rozner
FRA
-1
72
68
69
209
T37
Ashley Chesters
ENG
-1
73
67
69
209
T37
Connor Syme
SCO
-1
69
71
69
209
T37
Fabrizio Zanotti
PAR
-1
68
72
69
209
T37
Jeff Winther
SWE
-1
69
68
72
209
T37
Matt Wallace
ENG
-1
70
68
71
209
T37
Nicolas Colsaerts
BEL
-1
69
69
71
209
T37
Richie Ramsay
SCO
-1
70
70
69
209
T37
Soren Kjeldsen
DEN
-1
67
69
73
209
T47
Andy Sullivan
ENG
Par
66
71
73
210
T47
Nacho Elvira
ESP
Par
72
66
72
210
T47
James Morrison
ENG
Par
69
68
73
210
T47
Jazz Janewattananond
THA
Par
68
66
76
210
T47
Joost Luiten
NED
Par
67
72
71
210
T47
Lucas Herbert
AUS
Par
67
71
72
210
T47
Martin Kaymer
GER
Par
73
64
73
210
T47
Ryan Fox
NZL
Par
66
75
69
210
T47
Sebastian Heisele
GER
Par
70
69
71
210
T47
Sebastian Soederberg
SWE
Par
65
73
72
210
T47
Steven Brown
ENG
Par
71
70
69
210
T58
Ernie Els
RSA
1
72
69
70
211
T58
Haotong Li
CHN
1
70
71
70
211
T58
Jack Senior
ENG
1
71
69
71
211
T58
Justin Walters
RSA
1
71
65
75
211
T58
Kalle Samooja
FIN
1
72
68
71
211
T58
Lorenzo Gagli
ITA
1
73
66
72
211
T58
Maverick Antcliff
AUS
1
70
69
72
211
T58
Pablo Larrazabal
ESP
1
69
68
74
211
T58
Scott Jamieson
SCO
1
73
67
71
211
T58
Stephen Gallacher
SCO
1
70
71
70
211
T68
Edoardo Molinari
ITA
2
71
69
72
212
T68
Gaganjeet Bhullar
IND
2
74
67
71
212
T68
Haydn Porteous
RSA
2
72
67
73
212
T68
Masahiro Kawamura
JPN
2
73
68
71
212
T68
Rafael Cabrera Bello
ESP
2
69
70
73
212
T73
Marcus Kinhult
SWE
3
67
68
78
213
T73
Nino Bertasio
ITA
3
72
69
72
213
75
Sebastian Garcia
ESP
5
67
70
78
215
76
Julien Guerrier
FRA
9
75
65
79
219
CUT
Chris Paisley
ENG
2
70
72
142
CUT
Cormac Sharvin
NIR
2
75
67
142
CUT
David Drysdale
SCO
2
73
69
142
CUT
Joakim Lagergren
SWE
2
75
67
142
CUT
Matthew Jordan
ENG
2
73
69
142
CUT
Mikko Korhonen
FIN
2
71
71
142
CUT
Min-Woo Lee
AUS
2
74
68
142
CUT
Paul Waring
ENG
2
72
70
142
CUT
Sam Horsfield
ENG
2
70
72
142
CUT
Scott Hend
AUS
2
68
74
142
CUT
Zander Lombard
RSA
2
72
70
142
CUT
Alvaro Quiros
ESP
3
72
71
143
CUT
Bernd Wiesberger
AUT
3
75
68
143
CUT
Darius van Driel
NED
3
71
72
143
CUT
Guido Migliozzi
ITA
3
70
73
143
CUT
Jamie Donaldson
WAL
3
71
72
143
CUT
Lee Westwood
ENG
3
70
73
143
CUT
Oliver Wilson
ENG
3
75
68
143
CUT
Patrick Reed
USA
3
73
70
143
CUT
Rasmus Hoejgaard
DEN
3
70
73
143
CUT
Richard Bland
ENG
3
69
74
143
CUT
Robert MacIntyre
SCO
3
72
71
143
CUT
Romain Langasque
FRA
3
71
72
143
CUT
Shubhankar Sharma
IND
3
68
75
143
CUT
Akshay Bhatia
USA
4
72
72
144
CUT
Andrea Pavan
ITA
4
71
73
144
CUT
Calum Hill
SCO
4
71
73
144
CUT
Erik Van Rooyen
RSA
4
71
73
144
CUT
Jack Singh-Brar
ENG
4
70
74
144
CUT
Jorge Campillo
ESP
4
73
71
144
CUT
Michael Lorenzo-Vera
FRA
4
74
70
144
CUT
Oliver Fisher
ENG
4
73
71
144
CUT
Tapio Pulkkanen
FIN
4
73
71
144
CUT
David Horsey
ENG
5
74
71
145
CUT
David Law
SCO
5
75
70
145
CUT
David Micheluzzi
AUS
5
72
73
145
CUT
Thomas Aiken
RSA
5
73
72
145
CUT
Tom Lewis
ENG
5
66
79
145
CUT
Jeung-Hun Wang
KOR
6
73
73
146
CUT
Joachim B. Hansen
DEN
6
74
72
146
CUT
Sebastian Crampton
USA
6
74
72
146
CUT
Benjamin Poke
DNK
7
74
73
147
CUT
Jamie Elson
ENG
7
79
68
147
CUT
Ricardo Santos
POR
7
74
73
147
CUT
Robert Rock
ENG
7
71
76
147
CUT
Ahmed Marjan
MOR
8
75
73
148
CUT
Matthew Southgate
ENG
8
71
77
148
CUT
Raphael Jacquelin
FRA
9
70
79
149
CUT
Wade Ormsby
AUS
9
76
73
149
CUT
Brandon Stone
RSA
10
78
72
150
CUT
Oliver Farr
WAL
10
73
77
150
CUT
Othman Al Mulla
KSA
10
75
75
150
CUT
Thomas Bjorn
DEN
10
73
77
150
CUT
Saud Al Sharif
KSA
15
82
73
155
CUT
Faisal Alsalhab
KSA
26
82
84
166
RET
Callum Shinkwin
ENG
Par
79
79
Share this article