Graeme McDowell was delighted with his display at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, despite agonizingly missing out on a playoff.
The reigning U.S. Open champion finished just one shot behind Robert Garrigus and eventual champion Jonathan Byrd, but had plenty of reason to be contented after shooting a spectacular final-round 62.
That earned world No. 5 McDowell a share of the Plantation Course record and also marked a fine start to a season in which he has taken on full PGA Tour membership. Significantly, it was also a hugely impressive first outing using new clubs after he switched to Cleveland-Srixon from Callaway in the offseason.
"It's great to come out and answer all of the questions this week," said the 31-year-old from Northern Ireland. "I realized it was going to be a difficult way to start the season, with new equipment in the bag coming off the back of last year. There was always going to be questions. I've really enjoyed this week.
"I'm very happy with the day's work. Obviously when you go into a final round that far back and you know the scoring is going to be good, there's nothing you can do really but just put the head down and try and have a great day yourself,” he explained. "I played great. I just hit the ball a lot closer to the hole. I didn't really put my putter under a whole lot of pressure. It's just great to go low."
McDowell amassed a total of 11 birdies in a near-faultless display and managed to keep a bogey off his card. Six shots off the pace heading into the final round, he made a blistering start with five birdies in his first six holes.
"I continued to keep the gas on around the turn," he added. "When I birdied 13 through 16, I kind of started to think that maybe I had an outside shot,” he said. "I really look back at the first three rounds as the problem for me. I didn't finish the golf course very well at all here during the week."
His only regret of the round was a failed 10-foot birdie putt at the last, which would have put him in the playoff and secured him the outright course record.
"By the time I looked it up, it was kind of past the hole," McDowell said of the putt on 18. "It was a tough putt, though. It was a double-breaker and it broke right, even though the grain was right-to-left. Maybe if I had hit it easier, it would have had a chance to go in, but I kind of shoved it."