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Graeme McDowell snatches win with closing 63

Graeme McDowell came from four strokes behind to clinch the Wales Open title on Sunday over Europe’s Ryder Cup course for October’s clash with the United States.

McDowell’s fifth European Tour victory came with a blistering final round eight-under-par 63 at Celtic Manor for a four-round 15-under 269 aggregate, three strokes better than fellow Briton Rhys Davies.

Victory gave McDowell the 350,940 points on offer for first prize which took him to 10th on Europe’s Ryder Cup table.

Nine players will qualify automatically and then three wild-cards will be chosen by Europe’s captain Colin Montgomerie.

“I’d say this was the best round I’ve put together to win a tournament,” McDowell, winning for the first time in two years, told reporters.

“This is a huge step towards my Ryder Cup hopes. I need a big summer and perhaps another win.

“But winning around here will be a feather in my cap if it should come down to wanting a wild-card.”

As he did last week in Madrid, Northern Irishman McDowell, 30, came flying out of the blocks, claiming six birdies in the first eight holes to storm past struggling overnight leader Marcel Siem of Germany.

Siem, leading the field by three strokes after round three and McDowell by four, lost the tournament as early as the short third. Here he dumped two balls in the lake to run up a quadruple-bogey seven to plummet down the field.

Last week’s runner-up Davies became McDowell’s only realistic hurdle as the Welshman delighted the home gallery with a sizzling round of his own. The 25-year-old carded a 62 to better the Twenty Ten course record by a stroke.

Davies, second to Luke Donald in the Madrid Masters, mounted his challenge largely by virtue of two eagle-twos. At the eighth he holed out from 160 yards with his eight-iron second shot and when he ran in a 30ft putt on the reachable par-four 15th he was only a stroke behind McDowell.

McDowell responded with birdies on 10 and 11 as he refused to loosen his grip.

Donald completed a successful three-week trip to Europe, following his second place in the PGA Championship and victory last week with third in Wales. A 65 left him five shots behind McDowell but consolidated his place in Europe’s automatic nine qualifying Ryder Cup spots.

Montgomerie again struggled over the Twenty Ten opening holes but then rallied to pick up five shots in 10 holes for a 71 to be three-over-par.

Montgomerie gave his assessment of the course he has helped revamp for the Ryder Cup, telling reporters: “The golf course stands up and will allow the best team to win - hopefully that will be us.

“Too many courses turn tournaments into just putting competitions but this is a real ball strikers course.”



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