Graeme McDowell took a giant step back towards the top of the game when he finished fifth behind Adam Scott in the Honda Classic in Florida.
The former US Open champion closed with a one under 69 to finish five strokes behind the Australian on four under and secure his place in the field for this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral.
The Ulsterman will jump from 73rd to around 55th in the world today and appears certain now to make the top 64 in the world rankings who will to qualify for the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship in Texas two weeks before the Masters.
“It’s huge,” said McDowell who must remain inside the top 64 after this week’s World Golf Championship event in Miami to make sure of his place in the field in San Antonio.
"In this game, we talk about process a lot, but we need results to back up the processes to tell us we're on the right path. So I've been hitting it unbelievably in practice, and it's nice to take it on to the course and get some reward out of it.
"Yeah, you need that little bit of legitimisation of what you're doing to keep you working harder, as well. Like I say, really happy with a lot of things I’ve got going on.
"I feel like I can really have a big year from year. Like I said to you guys early in the week, just stay patient with it and I did a good job doing that this week and I’m going to keep working on that going forward.
“I can pencil Doral in now — a course I like — and we can keep grinding. I am really positive about a lot of aspects of my game.”
Scott won with a conventional putter for the first time in more five years, taking 32 putts as he closed with a level par 70 to win by one shot from Sergio Garcia on nine under par.
“I hit a lot of great putts again today,” Scott said. “Golf's a game where some days they go in like yesterday and today they just were rolling over the edge but I hit a lot of good ones, but I made some, too. Yeah, look, I did what I had to do.”
Pádraig Harrington headed home for a week’s break after closing with a one over 71 to finish tied 43rd on four over.
But Shane Lowry looked likely to land a PGA Tour fine for dropping an “F-bomb” as he found water and double bogeyed the 15th en route to a 75 that left him tied 53rd on six over.
After watching playing partner Smylie Kaufman (72) hit a seven iron into the water and snap the club over his knee in anger at the 15th, the Clara star also found water and let out a well chosen expletive.
Grinning sheepishly when asked about the incident, he said: “I just struggled. I got a few bad breaks early on.
“The only bad shot I hit was on 15 and I got heavily penalised. I was playing that hole thinking if I can make one or two on the way in I can still have a good finish.”
The Clara star birdied the second from 15 feet but bogeyed the third fourth and eighth and then followed his double bogey at the 15th with a bogey at the 17th.
“I’m bit disappointed after battling so well all week but that’s the way this course and this game is,” Lowry said.
"As I said to [caddie] Dermot, it could have happened on worse days. I was battling to try and finish in the top 20. It could have happened when I was in the hunt. So hopefully it won’t happen the next time I’m in contention.“