McDowell secures thrilling victory!

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Le Golf National, Alstom French Open, 6 July 2014







Facts of note:

  • Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell (67) successfully defends his Alstom Open de France title
  • American Kevin Stadler (76) and Thai Thongchai Jaidee (72) both fall one short
  • Frenchman Victor Riu (76) finishes 8th and secures his spot for the Open championship in two weeks time

Graeme McDowell produced a brilliant final round to overturn an eight shot deficit and successfully defend a tournament for the first time in his career. McDowell shrugged off some miserable weather conditions to retain his Alstom Open de France title, carding a closing 67 at Le Golf National, the joint-lowest round on a wet and windy day.

But the former US Open Champion still needed American Kevin Stadler to miss from two feet for par on the 18th, an effort which would have forced a sudden death play-off. With McDowell then dropping his only shot of the day on the 18th after finding heavy rough off the tee, Stadler needed to par the 18th to force a play-off but missed from two feet just as McDowell left the recording area to prepare for extra holes. Stadler's closing 76 left him in a tie for second with Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, who dropped five shots in the first four holes but played the remainder in four under for a 72.

"I'm very surprised," McDowell said after claiming his tenth European Tour title. "Midway through my second glass of red wine last night, when I was very disappointed with my back-nine performance on Saturday, I really didn't think I'd be a) standing here with an opportunity to be in a play-off and b) with a trophy in my hands. I feel very fortunate. Kevin Stadler is a great, great player. I literally gave him that putt on the last green. I didn't expect him to miss that. It's not really the way you like to win. I was ready to go for the play-off, but I'll take it and run. I really needed this victory. It's a special one for me. It's pretty timely. There's a busy summer ahead and this a really good kick-start to the summer."

McDowell has deliberately played a lighter schedule this year to leave himself fresher for the second half of the season. "It's a good decision now, but I have to say myself and my team were starting to question it," the former US Open Champion added. "But my body has probably never been in as good a shape at this point in the season coming into two Major Championships, the FedEx Cup play-offs and hopefully The Ryder Cup. I'm very proud to defend my first title ever and this is the boost I needed on many fronts, especially The Ryder Cup (the win takes him tenth on the European points list)."

Stadler found himself five clear of the field when playing partner Jaidee got off to a terrible start and local favourite Victor Riu followed a birdie on the first with a double bogey on the second after hitting his tee shot in the water. But the 34 year old then missed from 18 inches for par on the fourth and four feet on the sixth, before running up a double-bogey six on the next where his ball was only found in the deep rough because an on-course television commentator stood on it. Stadler was allowed a free drop but could only hack the ball a few yards sideways and eventually did well to get up and down from short of the green for a six. A poor chip from left of the eighth green led to another bogey and two more early in the back nine looked to have ended his chances as McDowell picked up shots on the 13th, 14th and 16th.

Despite a shaky finish – a double bogey on 18 – local favorite Victor Riu managed a round of 76, enough to take 8th place on his own and book his ticket for the Open championship. "Obviously I'm delighted, the Parisian said. Although I didn't win, I managed to finish eighth, which I would never have imagined coming into this week. After a bad first half of the season, what happens to me here is a big bonus. And I qualify for the Open, which is the icing on the cake. Playing a Major is the dream for any golfer."


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Note: Mcdowell was Stéphane Barras putting research participant. This research has lead to CaddiePlayer



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