McDowell takes Open de France for second straight year

Paris, France ( - Kevin Stadler missed a short par putt on No. 18, which would have forced a playoff, and Graeme McDowell emerged as the Alstom Open de France champion for the second straight year.

Starting the day eight shots off the lead held by Stadler, McDowell fired a 4-under 67 and finished atop the leaderboard at 5-under-par 279. Stadler entered Sunday at 9-under and held a 4-shot lead over the rest of the field, but a disappointing 5-over 76 paired with McDowell's strong day dropped Stadler into a tie for second at 4-under.

With McDowell already in the clubhouse at minus-5, Stadler just needed to par the last to force a playoff. He put his second shot onto the par-4 18th green and he had a long birdie putt for the win.

Stadler's putt came up a couple feet short of the hole, making it seem like a playoff was imminent. However, Stadler pulled his par putt and the ball grazed past the left side of the cup. The title was McDowell's yet again.

"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," McDowell said. "It's not really the way you like to win. I was ready to go for the playoff, 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 is a really good kick-start to the summer."

The win is McDowell's 10th on the European Tour and his first since winning this tournament last year. The 8-shot, final-round comeback by McDowell matched Jose Rivero (1987) and Paul Broadhurst (1995) for the largest overcome deficit in tournament history.

Thongchai Jaidee (72), who started the day tied for second and four shots behind Stadler, ended in a tie for second with Stadler at 4-under 280. Robert Karlsson shot a 69 and finished in sole possession of fourth place at 3-under.

Jamie Donaldson (69) and Matthew Baldwin (71) finished three shots back at 2- under, while Michael Hoey (71) came in seventh at 1-under. Frenchman Victor Riu had a rough day as well with a 76. He started the final day tied for second with Jaidee, but Riu ended in eighth at even-par 284.

McDowell carded two birdies on the front nine at Nos. 2 and 9, making the turn at 2-under for the day. He poured in a birdie at 13 as well, moving to 4-under for the week. In the meantime, Stadler was moving in the wrong direction with bogeys at four and six.

Stadler was not done there either. A double-bogey at No. 7 and a bogey at No. 8 dropped him into a tie for first with McDowell, Donaldson and Riu at 4- under. Stadler dropped another shot at the 10th and fell one shot back of the leaders.

A Stadler birdie on 11 and a Riu bogey at 12 had Stadler back in the lead with McDowell and Donaldson. Riu never shared the lead again.

McDowell took his first outright lead with a birdie at No. 14, putting him at 5-under. Stadler made yet another bogey on No. 12, while Donaldson double- bogeyed 16, giving McDowell a 2-shot cushion.

The Northern Irishman got to three shots up by making a long birdie putt at No. 16. That lead quickly disappeared, however. Stadler birdied at 14 and 16 paired with a McDowell bogey on No. 18 had the two deadlocked with Stadler heading to the final hole.

"I'm very proud to defend my first title ever and this is the boost I needed on many fronts, especially the Ryder Cup," McDowell said

NOTES: McDowell joins Peter Oosterhuis (1973-74), Seve Ballesteros (1985-86), Nick Faldo (1988-89) and Jean-Francois Remesy (2004-05) as the only players to repeat as champions of this event ... With their performances this week, Karlsson, Hoey and Riu secured spots in the Open Championship in two weeks ... McDowell took home 500,000 euros for winning this tournament ... The European Tour heads to Scotland next week for the Scottish Open, where Phil Mickelson will defend his title.