McDowell continues strong season with win in France

The Sports NetworkJuly 7, 2013 

Graeme McDowell's strong season continued on Sunday as he carded a 4-under 67 to earn a 4-stroke win at the Open de France.

McDowell finished the tournament at 9-under-par 275 to claim his second win on the European Tour this season. The victory was the Northern Irishman's third overall title of the year, as he also won the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage in April.

"It's been a bit of a battle. It's been a funny year. My game has not felt far away most weeks, but I have missed a lot more cuts than normal and missing cuts hurts," said McDowell, who had missed his previous three cuts. "It certainly motivated me a lot the last few weeks. The U.S. Open was a tough one to take and missing the cut in Ireland last week; it made me more hungry to want to be in positions like I was this afternoon."

Richard Sterne, who shared the lead with McDowell entering the final round at Le Golf National, managed just an even-par 71 on Sunday to finish in second place at 5-under 271.

Eduardo De la Riva and Graeme Storm carded matching 2-under 69s in their final rounds to tie for third at 4-under, while Simon Dyson (71) captured fifth at minus-3.

McDowell and Sterne entered the final round knotted at 5-under, but McDowell quickly pulled ahead with a 15-foot birdie putt at the first.

Sterne failed to jump ahead when he just missed a lengthy eagle putt at the third, but he was able to tap in for birdie to meet McDowell at 6-under.

After McDowell and Sterne both birdied the fifth, which included Sterne's chip in from off the green, McDowell tripped to a bogey at the seventh to fall a stroke behind.

McDowell was briefly joined in second by Soren Kjeldsen as he recorded three straight gains from the eighth to reach minus-6, but a bogey at the 11th snapped the streak and dropped him two off the pace.

It remained a two-man race between McDowell and Sterne from there.

The duo traded birdies at the ninth to remain a stroke apart before McDowell made it two in a row at the 10th to join Sterne at 8-under.

The South African, however, struggled with his driver down the stretch to fall behind.

Sterne's struggles began at the 12th, where he failed to get up and down for par following a tee shot into the rough to the right of the fairway.

He did manage to save par after hitting his drive into the water at the 13th to remain a stroke behind McDowell, but another errant drive at the 16th led to Sterne dropping another shot as he could not convert a 15-foot par effort to fall two strokes off the pace at 6-under.

A two-shot swing at the 17th then all but sealed the win for McDowell as he birdied the hole to move to 9-under, while Sterne missed a short par putt to drop to minus-5.

That miscue by Sterne allowed McDowell to calmly 2-putt for par at the last to seal the win and capture his ninth career European Tour victory.

"I was thinking of the 18th hole all day and it was nice to have that cushion coming in. I got a little lucky coming in," stated McDowell. "I didn't hit my best putt on 15 or 16 and they went in. I struggled on the greens all week and didn't make many putts, but only making four bogeys all week was the key."

NOTES: McDowell collected 500,000 euros with the win ... McDowell's other European Tour win came at the Volvo World Match Play Championship ... McDowell joins Brett Rumford as the only multiple winner this season. Rumford won the Ballantine's Championship and Volvo China Open ... McDowell has now won six of his last eight European Tour stroke-play titles when leading or sharing the third-round lead.

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