Graeme McDowell won the Alstom Open de France after clawing back eights shots on the final day with the joint lowest fourth round of 67.
The victory in France was McDowell’s first win since last year’s tournament, and it marks the first time the Irishman has successfully defended a European Tour title.
However, even Graeme McDowell admits the win was a surprise. In his own mind, he wasn’t even in contention heading into Sunday.
“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 standing here with an opportunity to be in a play-off or with a trophy in my hands,” he said.
He began his final round well, birding the second, paring the next six before carding another birdie at nine. He was then level-par for the next three before birding 13 and 14 to put him right into contention. A birdie putt dropped at 16, but a bogey at the last – his first and only of the day – saw his nearest rival Kevin Stadler needing a par to force a play-off.
The American, who had led for the first three rounds, missed a two-footer at the death, handing the championship to Graeme McDowell.
"I literally gave him that putt on the last green." Graeme McDowell
“I feel very fortunate,” said McDowell. “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."
Graeme McDowell’s gamble
McDowell has deliberately played a lighter schedule this year to leave himself fresh for the second half of the season.
"My body has probably never been in as good a shape."
“It's a good decision now,” said the Northern Irishman. “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.