Golf

Graeme McDowell overhauls Kevin Stadler to defend Alstom Open de France

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Graeme McDowell sensationally completed the first successful title defence of his career after an eight-shot swing on the final day was enough to overhaul America's Kevin Stadler. 

Three birdies in four holes on the back nine at Le Golf National put him two clear of Stadler heading to 18, but his only bogey of the day came at the tough par-four closing hole to allow his American opponent a chance of redemption. 

However, after finding the green in two, Stadler incredibly missed from two feet for his par to hand McDowell his first victory since his four-stroke victory at the same tournament a year ago. 

Although the American's five-over 76 no doubt helped McDowell immensely on his way to securing his 13th professional win worldwide, the Northern Irishman played an incredible round of golf on a wet and blustery day just south of capital city Paris. 

Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee finished in tied second alongside Stadler, son of former PGA Tour professional Craig Stadler, while Wales' Jamie Donaldson fired a two-under 69 to finish three back in tied fifth. Former European Tour Order of Merit winner Robert Karlsson finished one-shot clear alone in third after also carding 69.

All eyes were on McDowell and Stadler, though, for entirely differing reasons as the former provided his competitor with a lesson in how to play in testing conditions that are rarely seen on the other side of the Atlantic.

A birdie two at the long par-three second set the 2010 US Open on his way, and when he added another birdie at the ninth to turn in 34, the heat was really on 54-hole leader Stadler who stumbled his way to a five-over front nine following a run of bogey, double, bogey from six to eight. 

McDowell increased the intensifying pressure ten-fold on his inward nine when he birdied three holes in the space of four to jump to minus six - two clear of Stadler who began his final nine in equally disastrous circumstances with another bogey at 10. 

However, the defending champion allowed his closest rival back into the contest we he bogeyed the 72nd hole to set the clubhouse lead at five under. 

A birdie at 14 from Stadler left him one back, and when he nervelessly added another at 16 to tie with McDowell, another in his last two holes would've been enough for a character-building victory, while a bogey at either would've meant the complete opposite. 

And regrettably for this year's Phoenix Open winner, it was the latter - in horrible circumstances. 

After finding the green in two, his first putt left him a testing two footer to force a playoff with McDowell, which he unfortunately did not convert, completing a spectacular eight-shot, final day swing to hand the 34-year-old G-Mac the first successful defence of a title in a blossoming career.

He admitted afterwards that it was a timely victory - his 10th on the European Tour - putting him firmly in contention for an automatic spot on Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup team for Gleneagles this coming autumn. 

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Topics:
Golf
European Tour
Graeme McDowell
Ryder Cup

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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