Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Graeme McDowell's joy as number comes up at French Open

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 07:  Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after victory in the final round of the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National on July 7, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 07: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after victory in the final round of the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National on July 7, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Graeme McDowell earned himself a new nickname in Versailles after clinching a superb four shot victory in the French Open on a day when fellow Ulstermen Gareth Maybin and Gareth Shaw also finished in the money, high on the leaderboard.

With a run of recent tournament results that reads like a binary number, 101001, McDowell knows he will turn up at The Open at Muirfield in 12 days time and be referred to as The Binary Man.

In his eight tournaments this year, the Portrush ace has either won or missed the cut... like the binary number system, it has been nought, then one, then back to nought again

But you don't need to do the math to see that, as today's latest world rankings show, he is now ranked among the seven best players on the planet so McDowell is not complaining.

"Those three wins have been fantastic, but the missed cuts have been important too," he said after shooting a closing 67 over the feared Le Golf National course.

"Yes it has been binary golf, but the missed cuts have been my motivation. They have made me want to go out and work harder at my game. It has been an inconsistent season - when my golf has been good, it has been really good."

Over four days and on the course that will stage the Ryder Cup in 2018, McDowell's golf needed to be very good to produce a nine under par winning score compiled by making only four bogeys on a layout with well positioned water hazards and knee length rough.

"I have always felt I could do well here and was surprised to discover my best finish in the past was 17th," he said. "But this week I used my three wood well to find the fairways off the tees and I led the stats for greens hit in regulation."

To go with that self assessment, McDowell admitted he had his fair share of luck with the putter during a final round in which joint overnight leader Richard Sterne stuck as close to him as a limpet during the first 11 holes.

But as the South African made two crucial bogeys McDowell, having missed several birdie chances inside 15ft, finally sank two crucial putts – much to his surprise.

"At the 15th I hit a putt I thought was going right and it dropped and at the 16th I hit one which I thought was going left and that dropped too. The crowd must have sucked the ball, or there was something magnetic in the hole," the winner said later.

Going down the 18th hole with a four shot lead, McDowell then produced the intelligent golf that had been his hallmark for four days.

He took the water on the left out of play with a faded three wood. He then took the water that guarded the flagstick out of play by hitting an iron 25 yards beyond it to the back of the green before calmly two putting.

"At the start of the week my caddie told me he wanted me to makes lots of birdies to make up for the inevitable bogeys that would come here," said McDowell. "But I did the opposite to what he told me and that was the key. I think I only made 13 birdies all week, but I still won."

McDowell missed the cut in last week's Irish Open but reaped the rewards of staying on at Carton House over the weekend to work on his game, the first prize of 500,000 euros (£430,000) taking him less than 30,000 behind US Open champion Justin Rose at the top of the European Tour's Race to Dubai. McDowell has now earned £1.3million this year, with the Open Championship at Muirfield just around the corner.

"It's very special after the last couple of months," McDowell admitted.

"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 here.

"This is such a difficult course here, we may have one of the greatest Ryder Cup venues in European golf history in 2018," McDowell added. "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."

It was a fantastic week, too, for 27-year-old Galgorm professional Gareth Shaw from Lurgan who followed up his £50,000 payday at the Irish Open by finishing joint 13th for a 44,220 euro cheque (£38,000) in only his second European Tour event while Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin, in joint eighth, netted 61,800 euro (£53,000).

Michael Hoey had to settle for a £6,000 finish, nearer the bottom of the leaderboard.

Collated final round scores & totals in the European Tour Alstom Open de France, Le Golf National, Paris, France (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 71).

 

275 Graeme McDowell 69 69 70 67; 279 Richard Sterne (Rsa) 68 69 71 71; 280 Eduardo De La Riva (Spa) 72 67 72 69, Graeme Storm 70 68 73 69; 281 Simon Dyson 70 68 72 71; 282 Richard Green (Aus) 69 70 70 73, Jamie Donaldson 70 70 71 71; 283 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 69 68 73 73, Stephen Gallacher 68 70 75 70, David Howell 69 71 69 74, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 68 69 74 72, Gareth Maybin 71 73 71 68; 284 Gareth Shaw 72 69 74 69, Hennie Otto (Rsa) 71 71 69 73, Marc Warren 69 72 70 73, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 68 76 69 71, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 70 71 68 75; 285 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 71 74 67 73, Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 68 72 74 71, Damien McGrane 70 72 74 69, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 74 69 68 74, Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 68 75 76 66, Simon Khan 71 73 68 73, Seve Benson 71 72 73 69; 286 Kristoffer Broberg (Swe) 72 69 73 72, Ian Poulter 73 71 69 73, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 73 69 73 71, Lee Slattery 71 70 70 75; 287 Robert Jan Derksen (Ned) 72 70 73 72, Romain Wattel (Fra) 67 75 74 71, Scott Henry 73 68 74 72, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa) 70 72 72 73, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 70 72 75 70; 288 Alan Dunbar 70 75 72 71, Ross Fisher 70 73 71 74, Richard Finch 75 70 74 69, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 69 73 70 76; 289 Anders Hansen (Den) 66 78 75 70, Matthew Nixon 68 73 74 74, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (Spa) 74 71 72 72, Morten Orum Madsen (Den) 71 71 77 70; 290 Mikael Lundberg (Swe) 71 74 72 73, David Drysdale 70 74 69 77, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 68 68 78 76, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 71 69 80 70, Luke Donald 71 73 71 75, Christopher Doak 71 70 72 77, Chris Lloyd 70 73 73 74; 291 Joost Luiten (Ned) 71 71 73 76, Soren Hansen (Den) 75 67 74 75, Matt Kuchar (USA) 70 75 73 73; 292 John Parry 74 70 70 78, Estanislao Goya (Arg) 68 76 77 71, Maarten Lafeber (Ned) 76 69 74 73, James Morrison 69 72 75 76, Anthony Snobeck (Fra) 76 69 73 74, Alexander Levy (Fra) 69 76 75 72; 293 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 69 76 68 80; 294 Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 71 74 74 75, Ignacio Garrido (Spa) 75 70 68 81, Scott Jamieson 69 70 80 75; 295 Richie Ramsay 69 71 73 82; 296 Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 73 72 75 76, Michael Hoey 69 74 74 79; 299 Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (Ind) 76 67 82 74