If Graeme McDowell fails to come from three shots behind Derek Fathauer to win the OHL Classic at Mayakoba today he may look back at the par-four first as the hole that cost him his first PGA Tour win since 2013.
The 36-year old from Portrush badly needs the win at El Camaleon Golf Cliub in Mexico’s Playa del Carmen to haiul himself from 85th in the world to around 61st.
It’s going to be an uphilll battle now for McDowell, who repeated his start of Thursday when he drove out of bounds at the 438 yard par five and took six.
Added to a bogey there on Friday, McDowell is now five over par for the first hole and 18 under par for the other 53 he’s played having fallen from the overnight lead to tied third behind Fathauer, who shot a five under 66 to his 70 to lead by one from Jason Bohn on 16 under par.
“I’ve got to get past that first hole, which is kind of killing me,” said McDowell, who followed his opening double with a bogey and spent the rest of the round trying to catch up.
"The game is in really good shape. Apart from two driver swings, I'm really happy with the general progress."
McDowell also hit a drive well right on the par-5 13th that led to a bogey but he holed a 12-footer for birdie on the 17th to post a 70, his fifth birdie of a tough day, and still has a chance of vicotru in his penultimate event of 2015
McDowell went into the third round as the halfway leader following an eight-under-par 63 on Friday, however Saturday could scarcely have started in a more momentum halting fashion, as he carded a double-bogey on the first and followed it with a bogey on the par-4 second hole.
Her steadied quickly and recovered nicely with four birdies over a seven-hole stretch before bogeying the par-five 13th.
However, he will be disappointed that he’s thrown away so many shots on one hole when all his recent problems when in contention on Sundays.
“I’ve had a few knock-backs on back nines on Sundays, but getting to those back nines on Sundays, that’s been the key and that’s been the part that’s missing,” MCDowell said in Turkey a few weeks ago. “So taking the odd hit is not a bad thing really.”
McDowell has been too hard on himself for more than a year as his lack of hunger for the game blunted his edge and caused him to lose his ability to really compete
That’s something that has come about simply because he’s become a husband, a father and businessman, has taken is eye off the ball somewaht.
“I am not out there, as I was for most of the year, feeling like I had a gun pointed to my head and it was me pointing the gun,” McDowell said at the Turkish Airlines Open.
“I put myself under far too much pressure going into the summer because i hadn’t played well and I am not the type of guy who reacts well to that.”
A 70 wasn’t a disaster but he now joins a group of four players, including former British Open champion Justin Leonard (67), sitting three strokes off the lead.
American journeyman Fathauer played flawless golf to grab the first 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.
The 29-year-old carded a bogey-free, five-under 66 to move one shot ahead of compatriot Bohn (65).
Fathauer, trying to become the sixth consecutive first-time winner on the PGA Tour, birdied the third, fifth, seventh and ninth holes to reach the turn with a two-stroke lead.
He then reached five-under for the day after a birdie at the par-five 13th.
Bohn was cruising along with four birdies on his front nine and then followed a birdie at the 12th with an eagle at the par-five 13th before a lightning delay halted play for about 90 minutes.
He would have had a share of the lead going into the final round if not for a bogey at the 18th.
Bohn was the 54-hole leader at Mayakoba a year ago until closing with a 74.
"I don't want to do what I did last year on Sunday," Bohn said. "The only thing I can draw on is how I've been playing. I've got to embrace it, have fun and realize where I am. If I give myself enough chances, I'm going to win one."
He already has come close twice this year. Bohn finished one shot out of a playoff in the season-opening Frys.com Open, courtesy for a flubbed pitch. A week later in Las Vegas, he finished one shot out of the lead