Graeme McDowell wins Saudi International by two shots

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Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland celebrates with the trophy after he wins the final round of the Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (AP)
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A beaming Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland with the trophy. (Photo courtesy: Noel A. Alipoyo / OR Media Madarat)
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Updated 02 February 2020

Graeme McDowell wins Saudi International by two shots

  • The veteran touring pro from Northern Ireland uses his wealth of experience to beat a strong field

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Graeme McDowell reminded everyone that, at 40, he can still seal the deal by winning the Saudi International by two shots on Sunday.
Winless on the European Tour for five and a half years, the veteran touring pro from Northern Ireland pulled through under pressure from the biggest names in golf, including American stars Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
“This win is special. I’m very excited and relieved I was able to get the job done,” McDowell, fighting back tears, said following his victory.
“The birdies on 14 and 15 were just huge at the time. This is a difficult golf course — it’s unusual to win feeling as uncomfortable as I did on a lot of these holes because it’s a tough course in tough conditions. This is a huge, world-class field with the world number one with massive world ranking points.
“It’s been 10 years since I won a US Open, 10 years probably since I played the best golf of my life. I feel like I’m moving back in the right direction,” added McDowell.
As expected, the chasing pack — notably Johnson and Mickelson — mounted a back nine charge to try to overhaul McDowell’s lead.
Johnson had two eagles — on Nos. 4 and 18 — and birdie on 9 against two bogeys in a 3-under 67 card and 10 under total in a fighting finish in his defense of the title in swirling winds at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

“I’m pleased with the way I played, but I would have liked to given Graeme a little more pressure coming down the stretch,” said Johnson.
“It was really hard to make putts — but I hit a lot of really good shots.”
Mickelson rattled in three birdies on the trot from the second hole and was three under at the turn. He birdied the 18 to rebound from a bogey at 16 for a 67 and 9 under total, three shots behind the winner.
Thomas Pieters of Belgium mixed seven birdies and two bogeys for a 65 (33-32) to join Mickelson at 9 under, as did first-round co-leader Malaysian Gavin Green, who enjoyed an eagle-birdie finish that steadied a wild even par 70 that contained five bogeys and further birdies on the second and sixth holes.
McDowell hit the turn at level par, dropped a shot 13 that saw his two-stroke lead cut to one. But he rebounded with those back-to-back birdies from 14. Regaining enough breathing room, McDowell played conservative golf and parred the rest of the holes to post the winning total of 12 after a closing 70.
“It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia and the setup of the course was magnificent. It’s been a brilliant event and I can’t wait to return next year,” said McDowell, confirming his intention to return for the 2021 tournament to defend his title.
McDowell’s playing partner Frenchman Victor Dubuisson had his game unravel, as he finished on 4-over 74 to be at 7 under in a big group that included, among others, Spain’s Sergio Garcia (64), Mexican Abraham Ancer 67 and England’s Ross Fisher (68).

Kimmich: Bayern need to stay ‘hungry’ for Champions League bid

Updated 09 July 2020

Kimmich: Bayern need to stay ‘hungry’ for Champions League bid

  • Under head coach Flick, Bayern have won all 11 games since the season resumed in mid-May

BERLIN: Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich says the double-winning German champions must stay “fully focused and greedy” for more silverware during their two-week holiday before launching their assault on the Champions League.

“Now it’s time to recharge our batteries and then tackle the Champions League with full focus and greed,” the 25-year-old told magazine Sport Bild.

Head coach Hans-Dieter Flick sent Bayern on a two-week holiday after winning the German Cup last Saturday before fine-tuning their preparations for the Champions League.

After completing the double with a 4-2 cup final win over Leverkusen, Bundesliga champions Bayern are on a 17-match winning streak dating back to February.

Under Flick, Bayern have won all 11 games since the season resumed in Germany in mid-May amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bayern are chasing a treble and are among the favorites in Europe after routing Chelsea 3-0 in London in the last 16, first leg, last February before the Champions League halted due to COVID-19.

Bayern still need to finish the tie to reach the quarterfinals and the draw for the remaining rounds in the knockout stages takes place this Friday. Kimmich called on his teammates to keep training during their break to maintain the “hunger” for the Champions League finals in Lisbon next month.

“It will be decisive how we return from vacation: We want to keep that feeling, that hunger,” Kimmich added.

Having stumbled last November, when Flick succeeded Niko Kovac who was sacked following a 5-1 thrashing by Frankfurt, Bayern are now in great form.

Robert Lewandowski has scored 51 goals this season, including 34 in the Bundesliga and is the Champions League’s top-scorer with 11.

Behind the Poland striker, Thomas Mueller has 25 assists, including a record 21 in the Bundesliga.

Kimmich has bossed the defensive midfield alongside Germany teammate Leon Goretzka and suggests Bayern have developed a mental edge.

“In the last two seasons, mentality has been the most important factor in winning the German league title,” said Kimmich.

“FC Bayern may be ahead of other teams in this respect.”