French Open 2014: Graeme McDowell heads to The Open with momentum after overturning eight-shot deficit to retain his Alstom Open de France title - Golf - Sport - The Independent

French Open 2014: Graeme McDowell heads to The Open with momentum after overturning eight-shot deficit to retain his Alstom Open de France title

Norther Irishman records a brilliant final round 67 to take full advantage of Kevin Stadler's collapse

Graeme McDowell will head into the Open Championship buoyed by his first ever successful title defence following a dramatic final round of the Alstom Open de France.

McDowell overturned an eight-shot deficit thanks to a brilliant closing 67 despite the wet and windy conditions at Le Golf National, although he also had plenty of help from American Kevin Stadler.

Stadler's four-shot overnight lead disappeared with a front nine of 41, but he battled back well with birdies on the 14th and 16th to pull within one of McDowell, who had moved three ahead with his fifth birdie of the day on the 16th.

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 10th 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 - even missing the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth - 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 on Sky Sports 4. "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 10th on the European points list)."

McDowell, who held the outright lead after the first round of the Open the last time it was held at Hoylake in 2006, added: "I was at Hoylake a couple of weeks ago.

"I think it's my type of set-up. You really have to find fairways off the tee and there are big flat greens where you can hole some putts. This is a nice confidence booster and I will be back at Hoylake next Sunday ready to go."

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.

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.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food