McDowell's win at Corales Puntacana Resort & Club continues to serve him well
March 25, 2020
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Graeme McDowell wins at Corales Puntacana
Proper perspective helped Graeme McDowell win last year’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. Now it is an asset during this time of crisis.
While many of his peers and former Ryder Cup teammates congregated in Austin, Texas, for last year’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, McDowell traveled south to the Dominican Republic. He knew that joining a field comprised mainly of Korn Ferry Tour graduates and past champions looking to regain a foothold in the golf world was a necessary step if he wanted to rejoin the game’s elite.
“I went in with the right attitude,” said McDowell, who was 257th in the world when he arrived in the Dominican Republic. “I was it as an opportunity, not punishment. I think I did a great job adjusting my attitude and understanding these opposite weeks as an opportunity.”
McDowell made the most of the opportunity, shooting 18-under 270 for his first PGA TOUR win since 2015. He shot consecutive 64s after a first-round 73, then closed with a 69 to finish one shot ahead of Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes.
“Puntacana was pivotal for me,” McDowell said Wednesday in a conference call. “It certainly was a big turning point and step in the right direction.”
McDowell would have been back at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play if not for the suspension of the PGA TOUR as the world copes with the coronavirus pandemic. He went on to finish 68th in last season’s FedExCup, his best finish since 2016. He added a European Tour victory in February and is back among the top 50 players in the world.
McDowell, whose four PGA TOUR victories include the 2010 U.S. Open, has long been known as one of the more thoughtful players on TOUR, though, and he’s not seeking sympathy in the midst of this crisis. As a restaurant owner, he’s seen first-hand how people are suffering from the financial impact of the virus.
Like all of us, our defending Champion @Graeme_McDowell has Puntacana on his mind.— Corales Championship (@CoralesChamp) March 25, 2020
Stay safe, stay strong Puntacana. #ThinkingOfPuntacana @pgatour #pgatour #puntacana #puntacanaresort #coraleschampionship #coralesgolfcourse #dominicanrepublic pic.twitter.com/FyhT9G3zg0
McDowell’s two Florida-based Nona Blue taverns, located in Orlando and Ponte Vedra Beach, are closed indefinitely. “We closed our doors because our model isn’t based on take-away food,” he explained. “We are looking after the staff as best we can.”
They have continued to pay the approximately 70 people who work at the two restaurants, but McDowell admitted that he doesn’t know how long that can last.
“It gives me real-world perspective and makes me less focused on what I’m going through,” McDowell said.
With his parents and wife’s parents living nearby in Orlando, McDowell also said his family is “laying pretty low” and trying to be careful about limiting its contact with other people. Not knowing when he’ll compete again also has made it difficult to find motivation to practice and prepare for golf’s resumption. He emphasized that sports take a backseat in a time like this, though.
“I was excited about the schedule ahead, but we have to look at the big picture. (Golf) is slightly irrelevant and insignificant compared to what we’re going through,” he said. “Motivation is jumping out of bed with that target in mind. It’s hard to think about those targets when you don’t know. It’s insignificant, but it is important because it is our livelihood. But the priorities are taking care of family and that business, and making sure the people that work for us are taken care of as best we can.”