Graeme McDowell earned himself a new nickname in Versailles on Sunday after clinching a superb four shot victory in the French Open, his third win of the year.
With a run of recent tournament results that reads 101001, he knows he will turn up at the Open at Muirfield next week and get referred to as “The Binary Man”. But as today’s latest world rankings show, he is now ranked among the seven best players on the entire planet so McDowell is not complaining.
“Those three wins,” he said after shooting a closing 67 over the feared Le Golf National course, “have been fantastic, but the missed cuts have been important too.
“Yes it has been binary golf, but the missed cuts have been my motivation. They have made me want to go out and work harder at my game. It has been an inconsistent season – when my golf has been good, it has been really good.”
Over four days and on the course that will stage the Ryder Cup in 2018, McDowell’s golf needed to be very good to produce a nine-under-par winning score compiled by making only four bogeys on a layout with well-positioned water hazards and knee length rough.
“I have always felt I could do well here and was surprised to discover my best finish in the past was 17th,” he said. “But this week I used my three wood well to find the fairways off the tees and I led the stats for greens hit in regulation.”
To go with that self-assessment, McDowell admitted he had his fair share of luck with the putter during a final round in which joint overnight leader Richard Sterne stuck as close to him as a limpet during the first 11 holes. However, as the South African made two crucial bogeys McDowell, having missed several birdie chances inside 15ft, finally sank two crucial putts – much to his surprise.
“At the 15th I hit a putt I thought was going right and it dropped and at the 16th I hit one which I thought was going left and that dropped too. The crowd must have sucked the ball, or there was something magnetic in the hole,” McDowell admitted later.
Going down the 18th hole with a four shot lead, McDowell then produced the intelligent golf that had been his hallmark for four days.
He took the water on the left out of play with a faded three wood. He then took the water that guarded the flagstick out of play by hitting an iron 25 yards beyond it to the back of the green before calmly two putting.
“At the start of the week my caddie told me he wanted me to makes lots of birdies to make up for the inevitable bogeys that would come here,” said McDowell. “But I did the opposite to what he told me and that was the key. I think I only made 13 birdies all week, but I still won.”