It took a major champion and a playoff, but the streak of first time winners had been broken.
Graeme McDowell fired a 66 over the two day, rained drenched final round to win the OHL Classic, his first victory in two years. McDowell picked up the victory after one playoff hole against two others.
McDowell needed a little help just to get into the playoff. Russell Knox, fresh off his maiden PGA Tour victory last week in China, had a one shot lead while standing on the 18th tee. With McDowell in the clubhouse, all Knox needed to do was par the final hole to win two tournaments in a row. A poor tee shot wound up in a fairway bunker, and Knox's approach came up short of the green. He would walk away with a bogey, ensuring at least a two man playoff, which quickly became three when Jason Bohn nailed a clutch par putt on the last.
McDowell sealed the tournament on his second swing on the first playoff hole, when he hit a five iron within three feet of the cup, setting up the tournament winning birdie.
"I hit as good of a 5-iron as I could hit," McDowell said.
The victory ends the worst streak of McDowell's career, failing to notch a single top 10 all season long. Once a staple inside the top 20 in the World Golf Rankings, McDowell has seen his ranking drop to 82nd in the world. The struggles caused McDowell to doubt himself.
"You go through a year like this, you think, `Am I finished? Am I not good enough?' You ask yourself all the questions," McDowell said.
"It's the game of golf, and it's very difficult. I've been dreaming of this day and I said that I was going to appreciate it when it came. So I'm going to appreciate this one, because this year has been a grind."
McDowell changed his focus after his poor season. A player on both the PGA and European Tours, McDowell decided not to play the final events on the European Tour's Race To Dubai, and instead decided to play the opening part of the PGA Tour season. This strategy was to help McDowell remove himself from the past season, and begin fresh. It paid off, and now McDowell moves to 7th in the FedEx Cup points race.
Knox, who flew over several time zones to play this week, had a chance to win two tournaments in a row, but was unable to put away the tournament. Still, Knox is walking out with a ton of confidence.
“I gave it my best shot and got beat by a great birdie there,” Knox said of McDowell’s birdie in the playoff.
The third player in the playoff, Jason Bohn, has been knocking on the door several weeks, hoping to pick up his third PGA Tour victory. Bohn has now finished inside the top 5 three of his past four events. Bohn is not in the field next week, so he will have to hope his momentum continues over the two month long break.
Next week is the RSM Classic, the final official PGA Tour event of 2015. The 2015-2016 season will continue January 7th at the Hyundai Tournament Of Champions.