Monday, July 7

French Double for Graeme McDowell

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

G-Mac triumphs near Paris.
GRAEME MCDOWELL PREDICTED IT MIGHT just be possible. "All I can do is go try to shoot 66, 67... there's a 75, 76 waiting for anyone on this golf course." He was spot on as he shot the joint best round of the day--67--to capture his second consecutive French Open and 10th European Tour title and put himself back in the Ryder Cup reckoning with a superb putting performance at Le Golf National.

On a day when early rainstorms caused havoc, he bogeyed the last but his four under effort set the clubhouse target of five under par in the Alstom Open de France and asked a question that overnight leader Kevin Stadler could not answer, completing a nightmare day by missing a two foot par putt at the last that would have forced a playoff.

Confessing that the bad weather played into his hands, given his Irish upbringing, McDowell said: "I think the chasing pack needed that. If Kevin Stadler had sunshine and flat calm weather today, I think he might have been tough to catch. But the tough conditions today made it really difficult for everyone.

"Yesterday was hard but the rain went away yesterday and it was playable. Today, the rain was there. The wind switched. It got cold and it got pretty miserable out there. It was tough for everyone....

"I didn't expect to win so I feel very fortunate, and very happy, to be sitting here with the trophy."

Stadler carded a 76 to share second on four under with Thongchai Jaidee as Michael Hoey's 72 alongside McDowell for seventh place earned him one of the spots in The Open at Hoylake with fourth place finisher Robert Karlsson (69) and Victor Riu of France (76) who was eighth.

"It was tough and I drove it terrible today," Stadler said. "If you miss the fairway, you're going to get punished out here. That's just the way it is. Played great for a couple of days and had tons of chances and spent all day in the knee-deep stuff today and the score showed it.

"It was so miserable on the front nine today, I was practically expecting to bogey every hole. It was virtually impossible. Just hung in there and obviously made a couple of birdies late to have a chance. It was unfortunate on the last, played a little safe second shot and I felt good over the putt, and just whiffed it unfortunately."

McDowell's decision to play a light early spring and summer schedule looked to have put him behind the proverbial eight-ball as far as the Ryder Cup goes but a cheque for €500,000 and a big haul of world ranking points now puts him in position to make Paul McGinley's European team on merit.

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

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