Alstom Open de France. Magical McDowell Wins Again.

 

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Magical Graeme McDowell, the defending champion has won the French Open again.

McDowell secures thrilling victory

G-Mac / Getty Images

G-Mac accomplished his first retention of a title in miserable wet and windy weather conditions at the  Le Golf National in Paris, carding a final round of -4 under par 67 for a -5 under par total to lift the French Open Trophy again. He was ready to go to a play-off against the three-day leader of the tournament Kevin Stadler, who could only manage a final round of +5 over par 76. Kevin still had the opportunity to reach the play-off, but missed a two foot putt on the final green, to tie for second place at -4 under par.

Graeme spoke about the sudden win, and his earlier decision to play a lighter schedule this year;

“I’m very surprised, midway through my second glass of red wine last night, when I was very disappointed with my back-nine performance on Saturday, I really didn’t think I’d be;  A) standing here with an opportunity to be in a play-off and B) with a trophy in my hands.”

“I feel very fortunate. Kevin Stadler is a great, great player. I literally gave him that putt on the last green. I didn’t expect him to miss that.

“It’s not really the way you like to win. I was ready to go for the play-off, but I’ll take it and run. I really needed this victory. It’s a special one for me. It’s pretty timely. There’s a busy summer ahead and this a really good kick-start to the summer.”

“I think it’s my type of set-up. You really have to find fairways off the tee and there are big flat greens where you can hole some putts. This is a nice confidence booster and I will be back at Hoylake next Sunday ready to go.”

“It’s a good decision now, but I have to say myself and my team were starting to question it. But my body has probably never been in as good a shape at this point in the season coming into two Major Championships, the FedEx Cup play-offs and hopefully The Ryder Cup.”

“I’m very proud to defend my first title ever and this is the boost I needed on many fronts, especially The Ryder Cup”

Kevin was obviously upset  that he could not go wire to wire, he was 12 under after 35 holes;

“It’s very hard to lose the same tournament twice in the same day but I managed to do it, but it’s a good week overall. It’s a little bizarre to be so far under par early and not be able to finish it off, but if you had given me second place coming over here I would have taken it in a heartbeat.”

“I played good in spurts but obviously struggled in the rain today. “I 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, I played a little safe second shot and I felt good over the putt, and just whiffed it unfortunately.”

Tied in second place at -4 under par was Thongchai Jaidee, who had a final round of +1 over par 72.

 

 

French Open. Stadler Stretches His Lead

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Kevin Stadler stretches his lead in the Alstom Open de France (French Open) to four shots.

Kevin Stadler   (Getty Images)

Kevin Stadler / Getty Images

Kevin could only put together a +1 over par 72 today, but his total of -9 under par was still way ahead of the field. Only three players in the entire field managed to break 70 today. Kevin had problems with a re-occurring back problem;

“It’s a little tight, it’s been a little out of whack all week. Luckily didn’t give me a whole lot of trouble the first couple of days, but it today it turned up a bit. I’m still able to swing so should be fine.”

“I got about what I deserved out of my game today. I didn’t play that great, made a whole lot of pars and did not have nearly as many looks as I had the last couple days, but you can’t expect to play that well for four days in a row.”

“I knew I really didn’t have to do anything crazy today. A couple less would have been nice, but overall I’m happy the way it went.”

Tied in second place at -5 under par are Thongchai Jaidee and Frenchman Victor Riu, Victor returned a third round score of +2 over par, while Thongchai made up some ground with -2 under par 68.

US Open Champion Martin Kaymer is six shots off the lead after an even par third round of 70. He still hopes to go low tomorrow and try to put some pressure on the leader;

“I think since the first day he’s running away a little bit, so I guess he likes the golf course as much as I do. So I think it will be difficult to catch him.”

“If the weather stays like this, I just need to shoot a very, very low score tomorrow. If you get within two or three shots of him, he might get some nerves the last three or four holes because it’s a tough finish.”

“But the way he plays golf and the way I know him, he’s a very laid-back guy so it will be difficult to catch him. I can only try to shoot as low as I can to be happy with myself.”

Defending Champion Graeme McDowell struggled, carding a +3 over par 73, and is now eight shots off the pace. He too is looking to go low tomorrow;

“It was tough to find a rhythm, it was playing pretty difficult. It was nice to string a few birdies together and get myself back into it and as I made the turn I was feeling good about myself, my swing and my position in the tournament.”

“My swing off the 10th and 13th tee has been haunting me a bit, I’m just not committing to those shots and missing them all left. I’m disappointed with that back nine  because I really felt like I swung the club decently today.

“All I can do is try to shoot a 66 or 67 and there’s a 75 or 76 waiting for anyone on this golf course.”

French Open. Kevin’s Independence Day Celebration.

 

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American Kevin Stadler provided his own firework show at the French Open, Birdies and Bogeys but stayed at the top of the leaderboard.

Kevin Stadler   (Getty Images)

Kevin Stadler / Getty Images

After starting the tournament with a flawless 62, Kevin followed that up with a second round -3 under par 68 to lead the tournament by three shots at the half-way point. He dropped his first shot on the Le Golf National course at his 32nd hole, but recovered with birdies on the next two holes. The big mistake of the day came via a shanked approach shot to the par five ninth, his final hole of the day, to sadly card a double bogey seven, and a -10 under par total;

“I just tried to get a little too much out of it, I didn’t have the best of lies and had to hit the shot perfectly. I got a little too steep on it and it came off the hosel and into the deep stuff.”

“It was not exactly how I planned to finish the day but overall it was another good day so it’s all good. I putted brilliantly the first couple of days. I got a little sloppy on my final nine today but other than that struck the ball very well as well, had a lot of chances and rolled in a lot of nice putts.”

“It’s been a little rotten the last couple of months but it’s starting to show some signs of form again and I’ve hit plenty of good shots the last couple of days. Hopefully I can do more of the same at the weekend, the putter keeps co-operating and I am looking forward to the last couple of days.”

Parisian Victor Riu is in second place, much to the delight of the local fans. Victor had a second round of -4 under par 67, giving him a tournament total of -7 under par. His hard work with his coach, and some local knowledge is paying dividends;

“I’m attached to St-Nom-La-Bretéche but most of time I come here because the course is so good. I used to play here most of the time I’m in Paris. I didn’t feel very good in my game but my coach arrived here on Monday. We are training very hard and I feel much, much better.”

Marcel Siem is in third place at -5 under par, with Defending champion Graeme McDowell adding  a -2 under par 69 to his opening 70 to total -3 under par  for a share of fourth place with six other players. Graeme was quick to acknowledge Kevin’s Independence Day performance;

I said to Martin Kaymer it was nearly as good as his at Pinehurst, but not quite. “It’s Kevin’s type of golf course and if he keeps playing like that he’s going to be tough to catch, but I feel like three under is not a bad return for the last two days and if I can go low tomorrow and get myself back into it, who knows?”

Alstom Open de France. Kevin Stadler Leads on Day 1

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American Kevin Stadler leads the Alstom Open de France on day 1 at Le Golf National in Paris.

Kevin Stadler  (Getty Images)

Kevin Stadler / Getty Images

Kevin put together an opening round of -7 under par 64 to lead the French Open in Paris by one shot. He was delighted by his bogey free opener;

“It’s one of my best rounds of the year for sure, to not make a bogey out there is something I didn’t think was possible when I first played it. It’s instantly one of my favourite courses ever, I thought it was spectacular from hole one to the end.”

“They talk about the last four holes but they are doing a discredit to the previous 14. I have always wanted to come over here, the guys in the US tell me it’s one of the best events of the year and it has not let me down. It has been fantastic.”

Close behind after a first round -6 under par 65 is Marcel Siem from Germany, who is just that one shot back. What is interesting is that Germany play France in the World Cup in Brazil this weekend, and it will interesting to see who comes out on top here in Paris between these two golfers.

Marcel admitted he was tired, was feeling the effects of coping with his enlarged family, having recently welcomed his second child into the world. He was also happy that the putts had started to drop for him;

“I was really tired , I can’t wait to go to bed. I said that to my caddie on the third hole, I need to get my batteries loaded up.”

“I always enjoy coming back here, I love the track and had a good start this morning. The putts finally started dropping, last week my putting was horrible, so I am really pleased.”

Stephen Gallacher is in third place, he shot -5 under par 66 in the first round, he actually played his first 14 holes in seven under par, before the wheels came off. Stephen is hoping to qualify for the Ryder Cup;

” I’m trying not to be too outcome-orientated, just think of what I’m doing on the course and hopefully it’s good enough.”

“I missed a putt to go eight under and didn’t do too much wrong on the last couple of holes, but that’s what this course can do. I’ll still take two shots better than my previous best in this event.”

The defending champion Graeme McDowell was six shots off the lead after a first round of -1 under par 70, while his playing partner and US Open Champion Martin Kaymer only managed  to card a +1 over par 72.

Euro Tour. The Alstom Open De France. McDowell Makes it His

Graeme McDowell makes the Alstom Open De France his third European Tour Win of the season.

Graeme McDowell   (Getty Images)

Graeme McDowell / GettyImages

Graeme carded a closing round -4 under par 67 at Le Golf National to finish at -9 under par, four shots clear of South Africa’s Richard Sterne, who had been only one stroke behind until two late bogeys at the 16th and 17th de-railed him.

Graeme was pleased to restore some pride to his golf after his recent mini slump;

“It’s very special after the last couple of months, 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.It certainly motivated me a lot the last few weeks. The US 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. This is such a difficult course here, we may have one of the greatest Ryder Cup venues in European golf history in 2018. Anyone watching this week will get a sense for the match play drama this course is going to provide. 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. 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.”

Richard finished on -5 under par, in second place on his own, and was ruing those two late bogeys, he wanted to be able to push Graeme all the way to the finish.

Tied in third place at -4 under par were Eduardo De La Riva and Graeme Storm. Way down the list were the highly rated pair of Ian Poulter, finishing on +2 with Luke Donald on +4. Not a good trip to Europe for these American based players.

 

Euro Tour. Alstom Open De France. Two Tied At The Top.

Two players are tied at the top of the leaderboard at the Alstom Open De France at the conclusion of the third round on the Le Golf National course, Paris.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

Graeme McDowell, joint leader / Getty Images

Graeme McDowell and Richard Sterne share the lead at -5 under par,going into the final round of the Alstom Open de France. Only 18 players managed to finish the third round with an under par score.

Graeme played well and as it was pointed out to him has a great opportunity to win his third event of the season;

“I hadn’t really thought about it but thanks for pointing that out! I hope I have the opportunity. It’s going to be phenomenal come 2018. The last four holes are as dramatic a risk-reward finish as you could imagine with a combination of a natural amphitheater. The 15th and 18th are two phenomenal holes, especially the pin position on 15 today. When the caddie in the group in front put the pin back in the hole on 15 I thought he’d missed the green with it. It looked like it was in the water. I played very nicely today and continued on from where I left off on Thursday and Friday. This course demands fairways and greens, most courses do but this one even more so. Shots off-line here get punished heavily. The greens are very firm. I described it earlier this week as a Scottish or Irish links meets the Players Championship at Sawgrass. It’s got the risk-reward with the water and it’s fast and firm like a links course. It’s a great combination. It’s been a rough couple of months, a few weekends off to contemplate what’s going on, but it’s done nothing but motivate me to work harder and harder and be more hungry for days like tomorrow so I will be excited and looking forward to it.”

Richard was well pleased with his 71 today;

“I’m very pleased with 71 in the end. This course can bite you in a lot of places and the finish here is probably the toughest on the tour. This golf course tends to do that, guys don’t keep on going low. There are a lot of guys bunched up. Someone can come from further back but hopefully I get off to a good start again tomorrow and keep it going.”

Tied in third place are Richard Green, Bernd Wiesberger and David Howell, all with a tournament total  of -4 under par.

David said it was hard going today;

” It was not that pretty to be honest today, I could not have got much more out of that round. I dodged a few bullets and did not feel particularly comfortable so I’m delighted to get round in 69.”

It is still anybody’s tournament, and it will be great fun to watch it all unfold tomorrow.

Euro Tour. Alstom Open De France.Fabrizio Zanotti Leads.

Fabrizio Zanotti leads the Alstom Open De France at the conclusion of the second round at the Le Golf National course in Paris. Early fog at Le Golf National outside Paris meant a one-hour delay this morning.

Fabrizio Zanotti  (Getty Images)

Fabrizio Zanotti / Getty Images

Fabrizio carded  a second consecutive round of 68 to lead by one shot, with a tournament total of -6 under par. He said he was very happy with the situation;

” I’m very happy, I struggled a little from the tee but I putted very well during the day and pretty happy with the round. It was pretty tough out there, and the course is playing very hard, so very happy. I think it’s a very good score, so I will try to keep playing like this and just have fun. I haven’t played very well during the year, but I’m working very hard and I think this is because of all the work, I am always positive. It’s pretty tough to keep working when you are not playing good, but that is the way all the guys play good, so you have to keep working to get where you want. On a course like this, I think that you have to accept everything. It’s playing very tough and the greens are getting hard, so it’s going to be very hard. Like I said, keep patient and have fun, there is no other way.”

There is a three-way tie in second place at -5 under par, they are Richard Sterne, Thomas Björn and  Søren Kjeldsen.

Richard said he lost concentration half way round, but then recovered well;

” It was a good finish to the day, I started off well and kind of fell asleep halfway. I made a couple of weak bogeys from the fairway, and I had a good finish.I hit good shots and I made good putts at the right time. I think I needed to finish strong to give myself a chance going into the weekend.”

Soren was just happy to be in contention;

” I haven’t really been in contention in any tournaments this year, so this is a massive bonus. You’re not going to get me to talk about winning and stuff like that, certainly not now. I’m just enjoying playing good golf, and hopefully I can keep going.”

Someone else who is happy to be in contention is Graeme McDowell, who has not been playing too well lately, but is a group of players at -4 under par;

“I’m playing this golf course the way it’s supposed to be played, fairways and greens. Once you start hitting it off-line it will punish you.I just have not got the putter revved up but I am well in touch and right where I need to be. It’s been a rough couple of months for me. I’ve not been playing the kind of golf I’d like to and the key to this week was to come and get myself in the mix for the weekend and get some of the juices flowing again. I’m excited for the weekend and to make a cut really. It feels like a step in the right direction. I certainly know what to do when I put myself in these positions. I just have not had the opportunity to do it lately. I’m probably on one of my worst missed cut runs in a while. It’s nice to break that, first and foremost, and be on the leaderboard.”