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The Debrief: Saudi International

The Debrief: Saudi International

Everything you need to know from this week's Saudi International.

Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell used all his experience to negotiate windy conditions in the final round at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club to card a closing 70 to secure a two shot victory over defending champion Dustin Johnson.

Here, we take a look at the highlights from the 2020 Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Return of the Mac

McDowell ended a 2,037 day winning drought to claim his 11th European Tour success of his career when he finished two shots ahead of defending champion Johnson. The Northern Irishman battled gamely against the wind in King Abdullah Economic City to card a closing 70 as he secured his 16th professional victory in 13 different countries, and his first since successfully retaining his crown at the 2014 Open de France. "It's special," he said. "I've been working hard the last year and a half. I want to be back up there one more time just to be able to play against these guys. I'm very excited that it's happened a little faster than I expected but hopefully it's laying some foundations down for having a big year. It's been ten years since I won a U.S. Open, ten years probably since I played the best golf of my life. I feel like I'm moving back in the right direction."

Friends reunited

Eventual champion McDowell and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson were the final group to play at this year's event and were locked together at the top of the leaderboard with nine holes to play in Saudi Arabia, before the Northern Irishman prevailed. They were paired together at the 2014 Ryder Cup, when Captain Paul McGinley asked Major Champion McDowell to mentor rookie Dubuisson for the contest at Gleneagles and the duo went on to take two points from two in the foursomes as Europe romped to a third consecutive victory. McDowell, speaking about the Frenchman ahead of the final group showdown, said: "He's such a great guy, he hasn't had the best form the last few years and I'm really, really happy to see him at the top of the leaderboard."

It was not the only reunion at Royal Greens golf and Country Club as former University of New Mexico roommates Victor Perez and Gavin Green were in the final group together on Saturday.

DJ just misses out

The World Number Five will go down in Saudi International history as the maiden winner of the event when he claimed a two stroke victory 12 months ago. And the American came close to becoming the first player to successfully defend his crown in King Abdullah Economic City as an eagle at the final hole earned him sole second place, to leave him two shots adrift of McDowell in testing conditions in the desert. "Another day where it could have been a lot better," Johnson said. "I'm happy with the way I'm playing. I would have liked to give Graeme a little more pressure coming down the stretch. I had some really good chances. It's only my second event since The Tour Championship, so I haven't played much golf. I feel like the game's starting to come around a little bit. It's been great. Everybody's been more than welcoming and they have been great. So I looked forward to coming back this year, and this year was a lot of the same if not better. They treat us great over here and they do a great job with the golf course."

Antcliff's Maverick dash to Saudi

Just over a week ago the Saudi International was barely on Maverick Antcliff's radar - now he has a 52nd place finish next to his name. The Australian was in the United States when he discovered he was quickly moving down the entry list and decided to hop on a plane when he became the first reserve. He was awake at 1.30am due to jetlag and just hours later he was playing round one after Richard Sterne had to withdraw with a back injury. Here's the story in full from the man himself.

Paratore's phantom roll

Renato Paratore's approach to the tenth on Moving Day was inches from being perfect, sitting right on the edge of a contour that would take it down the hole. And then this happened. Was it a gust of wind? Was it a subterranean dweller? Renato won't care - birdie.

Superbowl predictions

McDowell, Johnson, 2018 Masters Tournament winner Patrick Reed and five time Major Champion Phil Mickelson were tasked with predicting who would win Superbowl LIV in Miami after their final rounds on Sunday. Kansas City Chiefs took on the San Francisco 49ers in Miami for the showpiece event on Sunday evening, with the former staging a final quarter comeback to claim a 31-20 victory. But who did the golfers go for with their selections?

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