McDowell hails 'career-best' final round to halt Davies' bid

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The Independent Online

Graeme McDowell crushed home hopes here to win the Wales Open yesterday and on the evidence of this remarkable performance the Ulsterman will be entrusted to do the same to American hopes on the same course in four months' time.

The £300,000 first prize took McDowell to the brink of the automatic positions in the Ryder Cup standings. Yet so accomplished was his display that surely Colin Montgomerie, the Europe captain, will not be able to ignore his claims whatever the table reads come August.

His final-round 63 completed a weekend which saw him move from one-under to 15-under. And he had to compile it just as Rhys Davies was sending the crowd into a frenzy. On any other day the 25-year-old's course-record 62 would have been enough. But with McDowell in this form the Welsh rookie was forced to take consolation from his second runner-up finish in as many weeks.

"This was the best final round of my career," said McDowell, who began four behind the overnight leader Marcel Siem before the German slumped to a 76. "It was special, dream stuff. This is a huge step towards making my second Ryder Cup appearance. Winning around here like that must be a good feather in the hat if I need a nod."

Monty might also find it difficult to overlook Davies. He is some competitor. The Bridgend pro admitted to being a "little bit angry" when he finished, despite a spectacular round which featured two eagles on par fours. After beginning the day eight behind, Davies actually topped the scoreboard as soon as the 12th. But even though his 30-footer for a two in the par-four 15th matched his holed eight-iron for a two on the par-four eighth, he could not hold off McDowell. So the wait for a home winner of the Wales Open goes on.

"It is bitter-sweet," said Davies, who took only 21 putts, further enhancing his burgeoning status as one of the game's great putter. "If you told me at the start of the day I'd shoot 62 and come second I would have taken it."

There was yet more to impress Montgomerie with another fine week for Luke Donald. Despite starting with a 75, the Englishman finished third on 10-under with a last day 65. That made it a first, second and third in his three-week trip to Europe. He should come home more often.