One swallow does not a summer make, Aristotle once pondered, yet one 40-foot par putt certainly does, for Graeme McDowell at least.
The 2010 US Open winner went into the weekend’s RBC Canadian Open looking to maintain his recent good form, compete and do well at the north American country’s most prestigious event.
McDowell is the returning champion to next week’s US Open, which is back at Pebble Beach for the first time since the Portrush native won the prestigious event nine years ago, and the major winner was fine-tuning his game at the Ontario event.
The Ryder Cup star played his way into contention on Thursday and Friday, posting 65 and 67 respectively, while a level-par third round left him five shots off the lead going into the final day.
Rory McIlroy, of course, blew away the entire field with a final-round 61 to win the tournament by seven shots, with Offaly’s Shane Lowry making it an Irish one-two.
McDowell, however, was now playing for a top ten finish and hoping to become one of the three best finishers who had not yet qualified for the third major of the year, The Open Championship, which takes place at Royal Portrush in July.
Two under for the day, heading down 18, McDowell was just inside the top ten in a tie for eighth place, knowing that a par on the final hole would probably get the job done for a chance to compete for the iconic Claret Jug at the golfer’s home course on the north coast.
McDowell found the left rough off the green on the index 1 – the hole deemed the most difficult – par-four 18th, before leaving his approach in the right rough, 22 yards short of the flag.
Looking to get up and down in two, McDowell made life very difficult for himself as he found himself 40 feet above the hole, staring a bogey in the face.
Yet somehow, McDowell sent the ball rolling towards the hole and the breaking putt never left the centre of the hole, saving par and cementing a top ten finish.
As a result, McDowell is now assured of his place in the Open, while also taking real momentum into the second major of the year next week on the Monterey peninsula.
"It answers all the questions for me for the next few weeks," said a delighted McDowell after the final round.
"Just to play a small part in getting The Open back to Royal Portrush was one of the prouder moments in my career, and it would have been extremely bittersweet for me not to be playing in the field.
"I had every belief in myself to get qualifying done over the next three or four weeks and it was great to get it done in week one.
"I must have played the course 500 times in my life but not much since the (two) new holes were created, so now I'll plan a little recce mission to play the course over the coming weeks.
"It's going to feel epic on that first tee. The fans are going to offer huge support and they are excited to have the best players in the world come to Portrush. It's going to be very special."
The former University of Alabama golfer confirmed that he will play in the Irish Open and the Scottish Open in the build-up to his Portrush return and the chance to be crowned golfer of the year in his home town.
"It means I can go to Pebble and forget about Portrush, and concentrate on Pebble," he added.
"And then I can go to the Irish Open and Scottish Open, and focus on them as well and start getting my game in shape and getting ready for Portrush, which will be cool."