Former UAB golfer extraordinaire Graeme McDowell won the Alstom Open de France on Sunday to claim his third title of 2013 at Le Golf National, outside of Paris.
Amazingly McDowell, in his last eight tournaments, has missed the cut five times and won the other three. He carded a very strong closing 67 at Le Golf National to finish nine-under-par, four clear of South Africa's Richard Sterne, who had been only one behind until bogeys at the 16th and 17th allowed McDowell a victory march down the 18th fairway.
Sterne eventually did well to par the 18th for a final round of 71 to make sure of outright second, with 2007 winner Graeme Storm and Spain's Eduardo de la Riva a shot behind.
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 taking him within €30,000 of U.S. Open Champion Justin Rose at the top of The Race to Dubai (the European Tour's money list).
"It's very special (his win) after the last couple of months," McDowell admitted.
"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 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 (Sunday).
"To win a title as prestigious as the French Open over a course that I think is the best we play on The European Tour, is very special and something I will remember for a long time."
McDowell was quick to extol the virtues of Le Golf National as a Ryder Cup host venue, with the Versailles course set to host the biannual match between Europe and the United States in 2018.
"It's going to be a phenomenal venue come 2018," he said. "I think the guys, Jean Van de Velde and his team, have done a fantastic job here. This golf course has got better and better every year and I think we are in for one of the greatest Ryder Cups of all time in a few years' time, and I just hope I can be here for that."
This year he has won the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Links in Hilton Head, S.C. and the Volvo World Match Play in Bulgaria. He has risen to sixth in the Official World Golf Rankings, but despite his three wins, has had somewhat of an up-and-down year, missing the cut in the Masters, Players and U.S. Open.
However, this pride of Portrush in Northern Ireland, who enjoyed three great years at UAB and now resides in Orlando, Fla., is poised for many more great years ahead. The 33-year-old is in his golfing prime and the old expression, 'Good things happen to good people' is very much appropriate.
Graeme is 'good people' as he has shown many times in his support of UAB golf, his involvement in the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate hosted by Graeme McDowell and UAB (Sept. 30-Oct. 1 this year), and in his attendance and heartfelt speech at his former UAB head men's golf coach Alan Kaufman's retirement party a few months ago.
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