Graeme McDowell closed with a 4-under 68 on Sunday and held off Keegan Bradley with a pair of superb short-game shots that carried him to a three-shot win in the World Challenge despite the Sherwood Country Club playing longer than ever in a light rain.
McDowell then headed home for a 10-week holiday with his first win in two years. It was the 10th time in 12 rounds at Sherwood that McDowell has shot in the 60s, and he extended his dominance on the course that Jack Nicklaus carved out among the foothills of Conejo Valley. In three appearances, McDowell has won twice and was runner-up.
McDowell won for the first time since he beat Tiger Woods in a playoff at Sherwood to close out a dream season in 2010 that included his first major at the U.S. Open and the winning point for Europe at the Ryder Cup.
Bradley, who was within one shot after a birdie on the fifth hole, closed with a 69. Bo Van Pelt had a 70 to finish third. Woods, the tournament host and five-time champion, was never in the picture. He didn't make birdie until the 13th hole and shot 71 to tie for fourth.
Bradley's birdie on the 13th hole for a two-shot swing brought him within two shots with five holes to play. McDowell never let him get any closer, however. He hit a beautiful lag putt from 75 feet just off the green at No. 14 for an easy par, then hit a chip from behind the 17th green that he was hopeful of getting within 6 feet of the cup. The ball was one turn from falling for birdie.
McDowell made a 6-foot birdie on the 18th that he didn't really need to finish on 17-under 271 and earn $1 million against the 18-man field.
NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE
SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) — Martin Kaymer of Germany shot a 3-under 69 to earn his first title of 2012, holding on for a two-shot victory in rainy conditions at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Kaymer finished at 8-under 280, two ahead of Charl Schwartzel (69) of South Africa. Bill Haas of the United States was third after a 71.
Kaymer was in trouble twice toward the end, pulling his tee shoot deep into the rough on the par-5 No. 14. He blasted out and made a brilliant birdie. He bogeyed No. 15 to allow Schwartzel to get within one shot, but recovered through the last three holes to close out his first win since Nov. 20, 2011.
South African Louis Oosthuizen (74) was fourth. Two-time defending champion Lee Westwood's run at Sun City ended with a 73, seven shots behind the winner.
The rest of the 12-man field were over par through four rounds at a tough Gary Player Country Club layout, where narrow fairways, stubborn rough, gusty winds and — on Sunday — steady rain made scoring consistently difficult. No one shot better than 69 all week. Kaymer's win was his first since the WGC HSBC Champions last year and earned him a $1.25 million check.
PGA TOUR QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Australia's Steven Bowditch shot an 8-under 64 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to take a one-stroke lead after the fifth round of the PGA Tour qualifying tournament.
Bowditch had a 23-under 337 total in the six-round event. The final top 25 and ties will receive 2013 PGA Tour cards and the next 50 and ties will earn Web.com Tour cards.
Kris Blanks was second after a 66, and Derek Ernst (66), Steve LeBrun (67) and Edward Loar (68) followed at 21 under. They also played the Nicklaus course.
Sweden's Robert Karlsson, an 11-time winner on the European Tour winner, and England's Ross Fisher, a four-time European Tour winner, were in a group tied for 11th at 18 under. Karlsson shot 68, and Fisher had a 67.
Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton was tied for 15th at 17 under after a 67. Camilo Villegas, a three-time PGA Tour winner, had a 73 to drop from a tie for 20th to a tie for 46th at 12 under.
LPGA TOUR QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Canada's Rebecca Lee-Bentham shot a 5-under 67 to tie Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn for the top spot in the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament, leading the 20 players who earned full status.
Lee-Bentham and Jutanugarn finished the five-round event at 13-under 347 at LPGA International. Jutanugarn shot a 74 after taking a six-stroke lead into the day.
Japan's Ayako Uehara was third at 12 under after a 69. Kathleen Ekey followed at 10 under after a 65, and Lisa McCloskey and Japan's Chie Arimura were 8 under. McCloskey had a 71, and Arimura shot 70.
Two-time tour winner Laura Diaz improved her status, tying for eighth at 6 under after a 72. Christina Kim, also a two-time tour winner, failed to improve her status, shooting a 74 to tie for 39th at 1 over.