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12/02/2012

McDowell captures second World Challenge title

2010 winner closes with 68 to edge Bradley by three strokes at 17-under par
Graeme McDowell earned his first win since the 2010 World Challenge. Tiger Woods Foundation Graeme McDowell earned his first win since the 2010 World Challenge.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Graeme McDowell concluded his 2012 season in style Sunday by winning the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual by three strokes over Keegan Bradley.

Winless worldwide since the 2010 World Challenge, McDowell shot a 4-under-par 68 at rain-saturated Sherwood Country Club to finish at 17-under 271. Bradley closed with a 69 to wind up at 14-under, while Bo Van Pelt posted a 70 to finish third at 278. Tournament host Tiger Woods (71), Jim Furyk (70) and Rickie Fowler (69) shared fourth at 279.

McDowell, who joined Woods (5) and Davis Love III (2) as the only multiple winners of the event, punctuated the victory with a short birdie putt at the par-4 18th hole and earned $1 million for the win.

"This one feels even more amazing," the Northern Irishman said. "It's been a frustrating year. This just caps off my season."

In 2009, McDowell received an invitation from the Tiger Woods Foundation to play in the tournament and finished second. He followed with wins in 2010 and 2012 and hasn't shot over par in 12 rounds.

"This event has been incredibly good to me," said McDowell, who is taking the next 10 weeks off. "This will give me some confidence to draw on."

McDowell, the 36- and 54-hole leader, took a two-stroke cushion over Bradley into the rainy final round. He never relinquished it, but was pushed by Bradley on the back nine. Leading by four strokes, McDowell three-putted the par-5 13th hole -- his first bogey in 41 holes -- and Bradley birdied for a two-shot swing.

"I figured if I could go shoot 68 or 69, I'd have an easy day of it," McDowell said. "It wasn't to be. All of a sudden, it's game on again."

But McDowell holed a clutch birdie putt to match Bradley at the par-5 16th, made a great up-and-down for par from a testy lie right of the green at the par-3 17th, then sealed the deal with the birdie at No. 18.

The long-hitting Bradley, who played the par-5s in a combined 11-under -- tops among the 18-player field - and almost chipped in for eagle at No. 16, had nothing but praise for the 2010 U.S. Open winner.

"It was a good battle today," he said. "Graeme just played so great. You know, he's a champion, so I don't expect anything less out of him."

Proceeds from the 14th annual tournament will go to the Tiger Woods Foundation along with Woods' earnings from the week, which he donates every year.