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G-Mac up for FedEx after sizzling 66

Graeme McDowellGraeme McDowell had five tap-in birdies and a zero putt green as he took just 22 putts in the final round of the US PGA. Picture: Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ieGraeme McDowell put his nightmare year in the majors behind him by closing with a red-hot 66 at Oak Hill to snatch a share of 12th place in the US PGA.

The world No 8 had eight birdies in a sensational round to finish a shot outside the top-10 on two under and immediately set his sights on improving his FedEx Cup record.

After missing the cut in the Masters and the US Open and slinking home tied for 58th in The Open, his final round took the pain out of what has been a disappointing year in the majors.

After taking just 22 putts last night, G-Mac said: “It was just pleasing to finish the week off on a strong note and finish my major season off on a strong note.

Graeme McDowellGraeme McDowell putts on the first at Oak Hill. Picture: Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ie“It’s been a flat year for me in the majors, a disappointing year, but this gives me a little glimmer of light and something to take away into the FedEx Cup playoffs.

“It’s very difficult to have your game exacted for these weeks. It’s hard to peak. It’s hard to be ready.

“I look at the Masters, I missed the cut there and I win the week after at Hilton Head.

“I missed the cut at U.S. Open and win a couple of weeks there at the French Open.

“It’s a hard game. It’s hard to get it right on the day. The major championships are the toughest test in golf, as we know.

“They stress you. They frustrate you. That’s why great players win majors because they are hard to win.”

McDowell began the day 11 shots off the lead but stormed into the top 10 when he followed a bogey at the second with five birdies in a row from the fourth.

“I just hit it closer today. I think I had I think I five kick-in birdies,” he said. “It sort of sparked off with a longish putt on the par five fourth.

“Then I hit it stiff on five and six and then hit a great four-iron into seven to about 20 feet, you know, one of my rare good putts of the week.

“Then stiffed it on eight and followed up with a bad drive on nine and made bogey there.

“That’s the way this golf course is. I think that’s been reflected in the scoring this week.

“If you do hit it in the fairway, if you do hit good shots, you can really make a lot of good birdies here. If you do hit it offline, this golf course is very penal.”

McDowell bogeyed the 11th to slip back to three under for the day but birdied the 14th and followed a bogey at the 17th with a birdie from 15 feet at the last.

He said: “I wouldn’t say I was 100 percent in control of my ball at all times but when I did get in the fairway my medium and short iron play was as good as it’s been.

Graeme McDowellGraeme McDowell hits his tee shot at the second. Picture: Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ie“I hit it closer to the flag, hit three or four shots in really tight and gave myself a five kick-in birdies and managed to make a few putts as well.”

Putting was a problem for McDowell all week but he had 12 single putts last night, including six in a row to finish.

He said: “I think we might have found a little key there last night when we were working on some drills.

“I putted a little better today but the putter has been cold for the last few months, been disappointing few months even with the French Open win in there.

“There has been some very average ball striking, very average technique but I feel like I kind of got it back on track a little this week.”

The $10m FedEx Cup is next on the list and McDowell looks likely to qualify for the Tour Championship for the just the second time.

“The FedEx has been tough for me the last few years,” said McDowell has never qualified for the season-ending Tour Championship. “I haven’t really got into it, if you like.

“This is probably the first year I’m going in there with some certain numbers on the board. I’m guaranteed the first three.

“I kind of know what I have to do to get into the Tour Championship and sort of set that as my goal at the start of the year was to get into the Tour Championship.

“I wanted to experience that a little bit.”