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McDowell wins second French Open after Stadler heartbreak

Northern Ireland's golfer Graeme McDowell poses with his trophy after winning the 2014 Alstom Open de France on July 6, 2014 at Le Golf National in Guyancourt, near Paris

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Northern Ireland's golfer Graeme McDowell poses with his trophy after winning the 2014 Alstom Open de France on July 6, 2014 at Le Golf National in Guyancourt, near Paris (AFP Photo/Thomas Samson)

Versailles (France) (AFP) - Graeme McDowell became the first player since 2005 to win back-to-back French Opens following a drama-filled final round at Le Golf National on Sunday.

The 34-year-old, who became the first Northern Irishman to win the tournament last year, overturned an eight-stroke deficit as overnight leader Kevin Stadler of the United States missed a two-foot putt on the 18th green which would have sent the two players to a playoff.

"I have to say halfway through my second glass of red wine last night I was very disappointed with my back nine on Saturday and I really didn't think 'A. I'd be standing here with a chance to be in a playoff and B. with a trophy in my hand'."

"I feel very fortunate, Kevin Stadler is a great, great player, I literally gave him that putt on the last green. I really didn't think he'd miss that, it's not really the way you'd like to win and I was ready for the playoff but I'll take it and run. I really needed this victory and it's very timely, It's a real kickstart to my summer."

McDowell is the first player since Frenchman Jean-Francois Remesy in 2004 and 2005 to successfully defend his crown and the 11th in the history of the tournament which was founded in 1906.

"This is one of the most difficult golf courses in the world. It's a tough golf course to finish a tournament on but it's one of my favourite tournaments and I love coming here," continued McDowell.

"I'm very proud to defend my first title ever, my body's never been in such good shape, coming into two majors, the FedEx playoffs and of course the Ryder Cup, this is the boost I needed on many, many fronts and especially the Ryder Cup."

McDowell stroked in five birdies in the day's outstanding round but his only bogey at the 18th left him tied with Stadler on five under.

The American then reached the par-four 18th in two shots before three putting from 25 feet to see the tournament slip from his grasp after leading from day one.

Earlier, a bad day for Stadler just got worse and his sixth bogey of the round at 12 left him on three-under as McDowell produced a masterclass in consistency to pull three shots clear of the field.

However, Stadler, the son of former Masters' champion Craig Stadler, birdied 14 and 16 to pull level again with McDowell before the disaster at 18.

Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee overcame a terrible start of his own which left him five over for the day after just four holes to bounce back with four birdies and finish joint second on four under with Stadler.

Sweden's Robert Karlsson was alone in third on three under, one better than Englishman Matthew Baldwin and Jamie Donaldson of Wales.

Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey qualified for the British Open as he finished eighth to claim the top 10 finish necessary to reach the next major and will be on his way to the Royal Liverpool Golf Club for the July 17 tee-off.

"I was trying not to think about it too much today, one shot at a time but it's a major," said Hoey on his ticket to Hoylake.

"I've played it two years ago and wanted to do better than I did at Lytham. It's a great course, Hoylake, and I played the British Amateur there."

Frenchman Victor Riu, who began the day in second place and four shots behind Stadler enjoyed a career highlight and his biggest payday with an eighth place finish.

Despite a three-over-par 74, the player from nearby Saint-Nom-la-Breteche qualified for his first ever major, the Open championship, in 10 days time.

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