Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell won his first PGA Tour title since April 2013 with victory at the first play-off hole in the OHL Classic in Mexico on Monday.
The 2010 US Open winner admits the barren run - his last victory anywhere was at the French Open 16 months ago - left him questioning his ability after dropping out of the world’s top 50.
But after handing the initiative to fellow co-leader Russell Knox by bogeying the 16th as the rain-delayed tournament went into an extra day he seized his second chance at the first play-off hole with a brilliant approach to two feet for birdie to guarantee himself a place at next year’s Masters and PGA Championship.
“It really gives me something to grab onto,” McDowell said of the victory.
“You go through a year like this and you think ‘am I finished? Am I good enough?’
“It has been a tough year but this is special. I have been dreaming of this day and I said to myself I was going to appreciate it when it came.
“I’ve stuck to my task the last couple of months and this is a nice step back up to where I want to be.
“I hit as good a five-iron as I could hit and it was nice to knock in a two-and-a-half footer to take care of this.”
McDowell began the day tied with Knox on 19 under after Sunday’s final day was cut short by storms but after a brief stoppage for more rain Knox made his move with a birdie at the 13th.
The Scot, chasing back-to-back victories after winning the WGC-HSBC Champions last week, handed back that shot at the next but it was McDowell’s error in leaving his par putt in the jaws of the hole at the 16th which opened the door for Knox.
As the Northern Irishman posted the clubhouse lead on 18-under - holing a nerveless 10-footer for par - Knox stood on the 18th tee needing a par-four for victory.
However, he pulled his drive into a bunker, came up short of the green and missed from 15 feet for victory.
Jason Bohn, who had started the day two behind, joined them in the play-off but when McDowell, first to play his approach to the 18th, hit a five iron to two feet victory was his as neither of his rivals could match his birdie.