Mcdowell Survives Play-Off to Win Inaugural Ballantine's Championship

Sun 16 Mar 2008

Mcdowell Survives Play-Off to Win Inaugural Ballantine's Championship

Jeju Island, Korea, March 16: The eagerly anticipated showdown between India?s Jeev Milkha Singh and Northern Ireland?s Graeme McDowell at the inaugural Ballantine?s Championship came down to the wire in a nail-biting finale which McDowell eventually prevailed to win after the third play-off hole.
It was all square for both Singh and McDowell after they battled to a share of the lead with matching six-under-par 66 for a 24-under-par 264 total in regulation time.
The spirited charge by Ireland?s Paul McGinley where he posted a total of five birdies and an eagle on the final day for a 271 total was not enough to catch the leaders and he had to settle for third position.
Japan?s Shingo Katayama carded a final round 67 to finish in fourth position on 273 while America?s Anthony Kim, Denmark?s Thomas Bjorn and Sweden?s Johan Edfors were a further stroke back on 274 in joint-fifth.
The expected showdown between Singh and McDowell at the US$2.9 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Korean PGA was played out to the large gallery that was eagerly following the leaders at the Pinx Golf Club.
Singh fired the first salvo, reeling in three birdies in his opening four holes. A lone bogey on the 7th only halted his charge momentary before he reached the turn in 32.
McDowell responded well with three birdies against one bogey on the outward nine in 34.
While Singh thought he could go further ahead after reeling in another birdie at the start of the back-nine, McDowell matched it with an eagle three on the par five 10th and pulled level with Singh again with another birdie of his own on the 12th.
When Singh dropped a shot for a bogey on the 17th and McDowell making another birdie on the 15th, the enthralling contest was well headed for a play-off.
After being even again in the first and second play-off holes, the deadlock was finally broken in the third when Singh missed his crucial birdie putt to hand McDowell the title.
"Obviously you play to win but somebody has to win. McDowell played really good and I think the best man won," said the 2006 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner.
"The week's over and I've got to look forward to something better," added Singh.
McDowell, who takes home the winner's cheque of US$512,028.21, left it late to seal his win.
But when he finally did, the 28-year old had his seven-iron to thank for presenting him with that perfect swing in the final third play-off hole.
"It's no doubt definitely my top five best shots that I ever hit under the gun. I hit 177-yard the first time and I had 179 the second time, and when it came to the third, I knew that the seven-iron was obviously perfect," said McDowell.
"And this time I just had to make sure I aimed right at the flag, and it came off. It's a great feeling right now," added a delighted McDowell.
Korean sporting icon, Choi Kyung-ju who has been the main attraction all week long had to settle for a share of 24th position after signing off on 281.
The US-based Choi, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, has relished his return home to take part in the Ballantine's Championship but was disappointed to have let his home fans down.
"The tournament week didn't go the way I expected it to go. The only thing I could do was to give it my best, which I did,? said Choi whose putting has been his Achilles heel all week.
"Looking at the fans cheering me on until the very last hole, I was very moved by that," added Choi.
Leading final round scores

264 - Graeme Mcdowell (NIR) 68-64-66-66; Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 68-66-64-66

271 - Paul Mcginley (IRL) 68-67-67-69

273 - Shingo Katayama (JPN) 68-70-68-67

274 - Thomas Bjorn (DEN) 70-66-70-68; Anthony Kim (USA) 68-68-69-69; Johan Edfors (SWE) 69-65-69-71

275 - Oliver Wilson (ENG) 70-69-67-69

276 - Phillip Archer (ENG) 71-70-67-68; Kane Webber (AUS) 71-68-65-72

Selected final scores

278 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 69-70-68-71; Padraig Harrington (IRL) 71-65-68-74

279 - Adam Blyth (AUS) 69-72-70-68; Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 71-71-69-68; Chris Dimarco (USA) 70-68-72-69

281 - Choi Kyung-ju (KOR) 71-69-69-72; Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 67-70-69-75

About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Carlsberg (Official Beer), ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Sofitel (Official Hotel) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore?s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.

For further information, please contact Asian Tour?s Calvin Koh at the Ballantine?s Championship media centre at +82 64 792 1976