NORMAN — SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Tied with Richard Sterne of South Africa in the final round of the French Open, Graeme McDowell didn’t wilt on the back nine.
The Northern Irishman made two of his five birdies on the way home to shoot a 4-under 67 Sunday and capture his ninth European Tour title by four strokes.
Sterne, by contrast, made three birdies on the front nine before faltering after the turn with three bogeys to hit a 71 and finish runner-up.
“Thankfully I’ve managed to learn how to calm my emotions and learn how to respond under pressure, sometimes,” McDowell said. “I’m starting to become very comfortable under pressure.”
McDowell won the World Match-Play Championship in May, but missed the cut in his three following tournaments. That could have given rise to doubt on the tough Albatross course of Le Golf National, which will host the Ryder Cup in 2018, but he put that aside to finish in style.
“There was no real panic button,” McDowell said. “It’s been a funny season. Inconsistent, yes. But when it’s been good, it’s been really good.”
Graeme Storm of England, the 2007 winner, and Eduardo De La Riva of Spain shot 69s to share third place, five strokes off the pace.
McDowell played solidly throughout the tournament, making only four bogeys in four rounds. In fifth place after the second round, the 2010 U.S. Open champion started believing in his chances on Saturday.
“The last 12, 13 holes yesterday, I felt the old juices kind of starting to flow again,” McDowell said. “I hit a lot of quality shots coming in yesterday, and I got a lot of belief from that. You know, if the putter had been a little hotter perhaps I could have got my nose in front a little earlier in this tournament.”