THE infamous Bear Trap at Palm Beach Gardens snagged Graeme McDowell in its teeth at the weekend, denying the doughty Ulsterman his first top-six finish of the year and a golden opportunity to cement his place in the world's top 50.
As runaway leader Camilo Villegas (-13 overall) held off Anthony Kim (-8) to claim his third PGA Tour win in yesterday's final Honda Classic round, McDowell was left to wonder what might have been after a closing six-over-par 76 sent him tumbling down the leaderboard.
The Bear Trap, a treacherous three-hole stretch from the par-three 15th, through the par-four 16th and on to the par-three 17th, thoroughly examines the credentials of title contenders before they reach the par-five last.
In all, the Trap cost McDowell eight shots on Saturday and Sunday. A bogey at 15 and double-bogey six at 16 during his third round 71 was followed yesterday by a five at 16 and an horrific quadruple-bogey seven after he hit two balls into the water at 17.
At least he held his composure and make par at the last as he limped home in a tie for 31st on +2 overall.
When the Ulsterman fired an impressive brace of birdies on the opening two holes of his final round, hopes soared that he would challenge Villegas, who was seven shots ahead.
Yet McDowell was knocked back by a bogey six at the third, followed by more dropped shots at six and seven.
Though one over through nine, McDowell was still inside the top-10 as he approached his ugly date with destiny at The Bear Trap.
Out of contention, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington (both +4) whetted appetites for this week's CA World Championship as they played some do-or-die golf on the final-day.