Graeme McDowell blasted a stunning eight under par 63 to win the Celtic Manor Wales Open by three shots and take a massive step towards returning to the Twenty Ten Course for October’s Ryder Cup.
The Ulsterman, 30, began the day four strokes adrift of Germany’s Marcel Siem in a share of fourth place on seven under thanks to a third round 64.
But he went one shot better in the final round, racking up eight birdies in his first 11 holes to finish on 15 under par and force Welshman Rhys Davies to settle for his second runner-up finish in a row despite a course record 62 that included a brace of eagle twos.
McDowell’s major goal this season is to retain his Ryder Cup place and team up with friend and fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy at Celtic Manor from October 1-3.
He said: “This is a huge step. I need a big summer and figured I needed to win once, maybe twice, and this is a big step along the way.
“Winning around here is a pretty big feather in the cap come September if I was needing a nod from he captain but I fully hope to play the golf to make the team on my own merit.
“The first 11 holes was dream golf and I am ecstatic. I feel like I’m in the form of my life right now and I really feel I have a big event in me.”
Full of confidence following last week’s fourth place finish in the Madrid Masters, McDowell got off to a red-hot start with birdies at the first two holes.
Siem birdied the par five second but racked up a quadruple bogey seven at the par-three third to leave McDowell and Davies in control.
He would eventually race to the turn in six under 30 and pick up two more birdies on 10th and 11th before closing with seven straight pars.
Siem eventually posted a three over 74 to finish alone in seventh place, seven strokes adrift of McDowell on eight under par.
It was McDowell’s fifth career win in Europe and his first since he captured the Ballantine’s Championship and the Barclays Scottish Open two years ago to secure his first Ryder Cup cap at Valhalla.
“It was unbelievable,” McDowell said. “I could hear a few Welsh cheers going up (for Rhys Davies) and saw that Rhys was on the board early. I just told myself that I wasn’t going to do any leaderboard watching until around the turn.
“The first time I looked at the board was on the 14th green and I was three clear at that point. That was the first time I knew anything was going on. I just couldn’t believe the string of birdies I put together myself.
“I sensed that other people were playing well as well but Kenny, my caddie, was trying to whip me and tell me to keep the pedal down and I really tried my best to do that.
“I’d say this is probably the best final round I have put together to win a golf tournament. It was really special and a special first 11 holes. It is a really tough finish to this golf course and I am so impressed with Celtic Manor this week.
“They have really put something special together here and it’s a few years since I’ve been to this golf course. it seems to be going from strength to strength and it’s great the way they can set it up for scoring.
“Look at Thursday and Friday, how different the scoring was then. They can set this course up the way they want to and I am sure Monty was very pleased with it. There was plenty of rough out there and I think it suits European golf.
“Guys are going to be excited to get back here in October and I am obviously hoping to be here.”