French Open: Graeme McDowell retains title


Graeme McDowell retained his French Open title as overnight leader Kevin Stadler allowed a four-shot advantage to slip on the final day.

McDowell, 34, began the final day eight shots behind Stadler, but a final round 67 gave the Northern Irishman a priceless one-shot victory.

Stadler was left disappointed, finishing what had been a strong game tied for second with Thongchai Jaidee, after missing a three-foot putt on the 18th to force a play-off.

For Graeme McDowell the win comes as a welcome relief and his first since winning the same tournament last year. It also improves his chances of securing a place on the European Ryder Cup team in Gleneagles this September.

"This is a really good kick-start to my summer," said McDowell. "I feel very fortunate. Kevin Stadler is a great, great player. I really needed this victory. It's a special one for me."

Stadler looked a good bet to take the spoils, but his lead was decimated in the space of eight holes as he struggled numerous times to cope in wet and windy weather conditions.

Kevin, son of former United States Ryder Cup player Craig Stadler, missed from 18 inches for par on the fourth before bogeying the sixth and double bogeying the seventh. From there another bogey swiftly followed on eight and by then McDowell was moving into a share of the lead with his third birdie of the day on the 13th; picking up further strokes at 14 and 16 to run clear.

Stadler than went bogey-birdie-bogey from the 10th to fall three adrift of McDowell, although he was dragged back into contention thanks to birdies at 14 and 16, drawing some hope from his watching support.

And the pressure of the situation seemed to be reaching McDowell as he committed a first bogey for the day on 18, meaning that the pair were then tied at five under with Stadler playing the 17th; but a three-putt from 25 feet on the last saw him slip into second place alongside the impressive Jaidee.