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In-form McDowell eyes Wentworth success

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Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland celebrates after beating Thongchai Jaidee 2&1 in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort, Bulgaria.

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland celebrates after beating Thongchai Jaidee 2&1 in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort, Bulgaria.

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Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland celebrates after beating Thongchai Jaidee 2&1 in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort, Bulgaria.

After winning one tournament synonymous with Wentworth, Graeme McDowell today turned his attention to improving his record in the event still held at the European Tour's headquarters.

McDowell claimed his second victory in three tournaments yesterday, winning the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria to add to his RBC Heritage win last month.

The top seed beat Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee 2&1 in a hard-fought final, taking the lead for the first time on the 14th and then making a birdie on the next as he became the first Irish winner of a tournament dating back to 1964.

Arnold Palmer won the inaugural event and the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Ernie Els all triumphed at Wentworth before the tournament moved to Finca Cortesin in Spain in 2009.

McDowell believes the gamble of taking the 24-man event to Bulgaria paid off despite admitting the field needs to be stronger and that the spectacular course on the edge of the Black Sea has one or two "funky" holes.

And the former US Open champion will now be hoping to maintain his superb form at the BMW PGA Championship which gets under way at Wentworth on Thursday, an event in which he has missed the cut for the last two years and has just one top-15 finish in 10 attempts.

"We have been talking all week about how prestigious this event is. I can't say how excited I am to win it and add my name to that list of legends," McDowell said of his Match Play triumph, with the winner's cheque of £675,000 taking him top of the Race to Dubai.

"It was not quite the salubrious golf of this morning (when he was eight under in beating Branden Grace 3&2 in the semi-final). It was a little more tentative, there was a lot on the line.

"I played strongly coming in and I sensed Thongchai was a little fatigued. I really tried to feed off that and show him I was really up for it. He made his first mistake on the 14th and the 15th has been kind to me all week."

Jaidee had the consolation of £338,000 as runner-up, but could be forgiven for wondering how he failed to turn an early advantage into a decisive lead.

Birdies at the second and fourth took the former Thai paratrooper two up, but he missed from eight feet to go further ahead on the next after McDowell had scrambled a par, despite taking a penalty drop from an unplayable lie left of the green.

McDowell won the seventh with a birdie to reduce his deficit but was grateful to see Jaidee miss from six feet on the next and then holed lengthy par putts on the ninth and 10th to stay in touch.

"The par putts on the fifth, ninth and 10th were huge, they were the turning points," admitted McDowell, who pitched to two feet on the 12th for a winning birdie to get back on level terms.

Jaidee then pulled his drive into a bush on the 14th and the resulting bogey handed McDowell the lead for the first time, which he increased with a birdie from close range on the 15th.

McDowell has risen one place to seventh in the world rankings after his win at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria yesterday.

The Northern Irishman saw off Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, ranked 49th, to win what was his second title in his last three events.

There was no change among the top six in the rankings, with Tiger Woods continuing to lead the way ahead of McDowell's compatriot Rory McIlroy.

Latest leading positions in official world rankings:

1 Tiger Woods 13.5308, 2 Rory McIlroy 10.2255, 3 Adam Scott 7.7247, 4 Justin Rose 6.4709, 5 Brandt Snedeker 6.3297, 6 Luke Donald 6.2514, 7 Graeme McDowell 5.8985, 8 Louis Oosthuizen 5.6558, 9 Phil Mickelson 5.2561, 10 Steve Stricker 5.2221, 11 Keegan Bradley 5.1498, 12 Lee Westwood 5.1183, 13 Matt Kuchar 5.0849, 14 Sergio Garcia 4.9128, 15 Charl Schwartzel, 16 Webb Simpson 4.6790, 17 Ian Poulter 4.6746, 18 Bubba Watson 4.6442, 19 Dustin Johnson 4.4103, 20 Jason Dufner 4.2555.

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