Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland reacts at the eighteen after winning the French Open Golf tournament at Paris National course in Guyancourt

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland reacts at the eighteen after winning the French Open Golf tournament at Paris National course in Guyancourt

McDowell masters emotions to win French Open

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Tied with Richard Sterne of South Africa in the final round of the French Open, Graeme McDowell didn’t blink on the back nine. The Northern Irishman made two of his five birdies on the way home to shoot a 4-under 67 Sunday and capture his ninth European Tour title by four strokes.

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Tied with Richard Sterne of South Africa in the final round of the French Open, Graeme McDowell didn’t blink on the back nine.

The Northern Irishman made two of his five birdies on the way home to shoot a 4-under 67 Sunday and capture his ninth European Tour title by four strokes.

Sterne, by contrast, made three birdies on the front nine before faltering after the turn with three bogeys to hit a 71 and finish runner-up.

“Thankfully I’ve managed to learn how to calm my emotions and learn how to respond under pressure, sometimes,” McDowell said. “I’m starting to become very comfortable under pressure.”

McDowell won the World Match-Play Championship in May, but missed the cut in his three following tournaments. That could have given rise to doubt on the tough Albatross course of Le Golf National, which will host the Ryder Cup in 2018, but he put that aside to finish in style.

“There was no real panic button,” McDowell said. “It’s been a funny season. Inconsistent, yes. But when it’s been good, it’s been really good.”

Graeme Storm of England, the 2007 winner, and Eduardo De La Riva of Spain shot 69s to share third place, five strokes off the pace.

McDowell played solidly throughout the tournament, making only four bogeys in four rounds. In fifth place after the second round, the 2010 U.S. Open champion started believing in his chances on Saturday.

“The last 12, 13 holes yesterday, I felt the old juices kind of starting to flow again,” McDowell said. “I hit a lot of quality shots coming in yesterday, and I got a lot of belief from that. You know, if the putter had been a little hotter perhaps I could have got my nose in front a little earlier in this tournament.”

McDowell and Sterne entered the final round with a share of the lead and both broke away from the field by making two birdies for a three-shot advantage after five holes.

Sterne won the Joburg Open in South Africa and was the runner-up at the Dubai Desert Classic, both in February.

“He really hung in there, played some great golf, and I knew it was not going to be an easy day,” McDowell said. “The way he played kind of inspired me to play better, and you know it was a really good battle with him.”

McDowell missed short birdie putts on Nos. 6, 11 and 14. But the Northern Irishman could rely on his accurate long game.

“That was the key really,” said McDowell, who led the field in hitting greens. “Short game was tricky around this course. The rough was quite sticky and the greens were quite firm and fast. You had to be very careful to leave the ball on the correct side of the pin, and I hit a lot of greens.”

Sterne initially got the upper hand when McDowell missed a short par putt on No. 7.

But McDowell picked up a shot on No. 10 to draw level with Sterne. He then took sole possession of the lead when the South African sent his tee shot into the thick rough to bogey No. 12.

McDowell smiled when he sank a short par putt on No. 16 to increase his lead to two strokes as Sterne sailed 15 feet past the flag from a chip on the edge of the green to make bogey.

“Fifteen and 16 were just kind of those lucky breaks that you need when you win tournaments,” McDowell said. “Fifteen was an average putt which I thought missed and it went in. Sixteen, I still don’t know how that putt went in. It was a right-to-left putt that I was trying to hit right edge and I felt like I started it left edge, and it managed to go in.”

McDowell rode the momentum with a birdie on No. 17 while Sterne missed a four-foot par putt.

After clearing the water hazard on the last, McDowell waved to the crowd on his way to the green with victory just about secured.

Just Posted

FILE - Albertans enter a COVID-19 mass immunization clinic in downtown Calgary, on May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Red Deer down to 115 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 165 new cases Sunday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a closing news conference at Tregenna Castle following the G7 Summit in St. Ives, Cornwall, England, on Sunday, June 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges support for Ukraine, mum on support for next step in NATO membership

Canada will continue to help address security threats in region

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women’s international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England on April 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rui Vieira
Canada coach Bev Priestman hopes to see improved performance against Brazil

Priestman will likely field a more senior lineup to start Monday

Jimmy Smits arrives at a special screening of “In the Heights” during the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Friday, June 4, 2021. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Smits figured he could carry a tune ‘In the Heights’

‘In the Heights’ follows dreams and struggles of Latino community in New York

Actress Devery Jacobs poses for photographs on the red carpet during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, September 13, 2018. Jacobs grew up in the Kanien’kehá:ka Mohawk Territory in Quebec but says shooting her new TV series “Reservation Dogs” in the U.S. felt like “a sense of home. ” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto-based Devery Jacobs on starring in Indigenous-led series ‘Reservation Dogs’

Series to make its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Most Read