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Graeme McDowell comes from 9 shots off the lead to win French Open

The Portrush golfer started way behind America’s Kevin Stadler.

Graeme McDowell staged a stunning chase on the final day.
Graeme McDowell staged a stunning chase on the final day.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

GRAEME MCDOWELL HAS boosted his chances of automatic qualification for the Ryder Cup by retaining his French Open title in Paris this afternoon.

The Northern Irishman has pocketed a cheque of €500,000 for winning Le Golf National for the second year in succession. The tournament looked to be heading towards a playoff but Kevin Stadler, the overnight leader, three-putted on 18 to hand McDowell the title.

Starting, this morning, nine shots back from the American golfer, McDowell did his part to put the pressure on. He birdied two holes on his front nine to reach -3 while Stadler — son of Major-winner Craig Stadler — reached the turn in 41, +5 for his day.

A Stadler birdie on 11 was book-ended with further bogeys. He birdied 14 to give him hope of catching McDowell who, at that stage, was finishing strongly. The Portrush native carded three more birdies, amid inclement playing conditions,but bogeyed the last to sign off for a closing total of -5.

That dropped shot looked to be crucial as Stadler picked one up with a birdie on 16. He parred the next hole and had a 20-foot putt on the last to win the tournament outright. He ran that effort two feet past and then missed out on his par in dramatic circumstances.

Fellow Northern Irishman Michael Hoey clinched a place in The British Open by finishing tied for fifth on -2. Damien McGrane was in contention for another Open slot but bogeyed four of his closing six holes to drop down the leaderboard.

McDowell showed climb into the top 10 positions of the European Points List for the Ryder Cup but he may need to keep up his current hot streak to claim an automatic [top four] slot.

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Patrick McCarry

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