Graeme McDowell reckons he’s ready for a red-hot summer after a sensational closing 65 gave him fourth place behind Luke Donald in the Madrid Masters.
The Ulsterman, 30, is determined to end a victory drought that goes back to the Barclays Scottish Open nearly two years ago.
And he heads to this week’s Celtic Manor Wales Open with his game in great shape and his sights set on a return to the Newport venue to claim his second Ryder Cup cap in October.
After firing eight birdies and just one bogey in a seven under par effort, McDowell said: “I’ve no complaints, the damage was done yesterday and it was always going to be a big ask to come from six shots behind the leaders today.
“It was great to come out there and play well. All in all it was a great day’s work. There is never a bad time to play well but this is the meat and bones of the season coming up.
“I really haven’t been in a winning position on the back nine on Sunday for a while. It is good to get those feelings and put your game under pressure and ask the questions and I am taking some good form to Wales next week.
“I have been saying for a few months now that my game is in good shape. I have just got to start proving it.”
McDowell picked up a cheque for €75,000 to move up two spots to 22nd in the European Points List.
But he knows that there are bigger fish to fry over the next three months with the US Open, the Open, the Irish Open and the US PGA still to come.
On the evidence of his final round charge yesterday, the Portrush powerhouse has more than enough game to earn his place in Colin Montgomerie’s 12-man side.
Six behind overnight leaders Donald and Rhys Davies after a frustrating 70 on Saturday, he birdied the first two holes and then bounced back from a bogey at the third with a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth.
While he missed excellent birdie chances at the eighth and ninth, he refused to quit and birdied the par-five 10th, wedged to a foot at the 13th and then drained a 40-foot bomb at the 14th to get to within two of the lead.
He was still two behind with three to play but failed to birdie the par five 16th, leaving Donald to battle it out for the title with Davies and Italy’s Francesco Molinari.
Molinari made it a three way tie for the lead on 19 under when he eagled the 16th but Donald matched the Italian’s three there when he hit a stunning 252 yard hybrid to 12 feet there and holed the putt.
That left him one in front on Davies on 21 under and he parred his way home to card a five under 67 and finish a shot clear of Davies (68) on 21 under par to end his four year victory drought.
Having blown his chances of winning the BMW PGA at Wentworth with a 71st holes double bogey, Donald was relieved to get over the line and earn enough world ranking points to push Padraig Harrington out of an automatic Ryder Cup spot.
He said: “It’s been a while since I won and to put last week behind me makes me very proud. It’s happiness and relief - definitely some relief.
“I don’t listen too much to my critics but it was frustrating for myself not to have won in four years and to come out here and play solid golf and get back in the winner’s circle can hopefully open up a few more doors and I can win a few more.”
Peter Lawrie three-putted the last but still claimed his fourth top-10 finish of the season with a 67 giving him a share sixth place on 13 under.
“The finish leaves a little bit of a sour taste but that is the best I’ve played for a while, especially on the greens,” Lawrie said. “I putted lovely all week.”
Damien McGrane closed with a disappointing 72 to finish tied 36th on seven under with Shane Lowry’s 69 leaving him a shot further back alongside Paul McGinley in tied 41st on six under.
Lowry said: “I didn’t think I was going to make the cut so I said to my caddie Dermot, let’s try and have a good weekend and get ready for Wales. Five under for the weekend wasn’t a bad return so if this is a bad week, it augurs well.
“When I was having a bad day six or eight months ago I was shooting 76 or 77. But now when I have a bad day I am still making the cut, which is not a bad way to be.
“I was thinking about my swing too much so I just decided to go back to what I know and stand up, pick a target and give it a lash.”
McGinley, who was tied third after an opening 66, was in no mood for chat after finishing double bogey, bogey for a closing 72.
His six iron approach to the 17th ended in the trees right of the green and he eventually three putted there for a double bogey six before missing a three footer for par at the last after overshooting the green.