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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2008 > European Tour > Ballantine's Championship > Round 4


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Graeme McDowell claims title in playoff

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell birdied the third sudden-death playoff hole against India’s Jeev Milkha Singh to win the $2.9-million Ballantine’s Championship on Sunday.

Victory in the first European Tour-sanctioned event to be played in South Korea put McDowell third in the Order of Merit and boosted his chances of making the European team for September’s Ryder Cup in Valhalla.

He and Singh, who began the day tied for the lead, shot six-under-par 66s in a pulsating duel to finish on 24-under 264 after four rounds on the resort island of Jeju.

Singh had led by three strokes on the front nine but McDowell caught up by sinking a five-foot birdie putt on the par-four 15th.

The Indian regained the edge at 16 only to bogey the 17th. McDowell had a long putt to win in regulation on 18 before the pair returned to the final hole three times in the playoff.

McDowell, who had not led all day, clinched victory at the third attempt, tapping in after Singh missed a five-foot birdie putt following superb approach shots from both players.

“That was no doubt one of the top five shots I have ever hit under the gun,” McDowell told reporters, sipping on a celebratory glass of whiskey.

“It came off perfect. Jeev laid the gauntlet down and I had to attack it—179 yards is a lot of seven iron for me but I was a bit pumped up. I did the business.”

It was McDowell’s third win on the European Tour and his first since winning the 2004 Italian Open, lifting him to fourth on the European Ryder Cup points list.

“I’m massively happy to punch in a win this early in the season,” said the 28-year-old, who also qualified for next week’s WGC-CA Championship in Doral, Florida.

“My ultimate goal is to make (Nick) Faldo’s Ryder Cup team in September. I’m off to a flying start. Now I feel ready to be a prolific winner.

“It’s a major relief to get over the line. It’s a great feeling right now. It’s been too long.”

McDowell won 333,330 euros ($519,000) and now trails only Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Briton Lee Westwood in the European Order of Merit, with 522,629 euros in prize money.

Singh was unable to keep McDowell at bay and, with the shadows lengthening at the cliff-top Pinx Golf Club, the Indian’s nerve crumbled first.

“Somebody has to win,” said Singh, who had been aiming to become the third Indian to win on this season’s European Tour.

“The last hole he hit a great shot after I hit a good one. I think the best man won.”

Ireland’s Paul McGinley was third, while British Open champion Padraig Harrington had a 74, finishing in a tie for 14th at 10 under par, 14 strokes behind McDowell and Singh.


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