McDowell bidding to win a third successive French Open

Irishman eager to kick-start his season at happy hunting ground of Paris National

Northern Irishman golfer Graeme McDowell poses with his trophy after winning the 2014 Alstom Open de France on. Photo: Thomas Sampson/Getty Images

Northern Irishman golfer Graeme McDowell poses with his trophy after winning the 2014 Alstom Open de France on. Photo: Thomas Sampson/Getty Images

 

Graeme McDowell is hoping a couple of factors will combine at this week’s French Open to belatedly kick-start his season.

Firstly, the Northern Irishman will have his 10-month-old daughter, Vale Esme, with him at a tournament for the first time outside of the United States; and, secondly, the course at Paris National has become his personal domain, having won the French Open for the past two seasons.

If he is to join a rare club of “three-peat” winners on the PGA European Tour – which currently only features Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomery, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els – then McDowell will need to undergo a dramatic change in fortune following missed cuts in each of his last two outings, the St Jude Classic and the US Open.

That has led to a fall down the world rankings from 15th at the start of the year to a current position just inside the top-50, in 48th spot.

McDowell’s only top-10 finish, either in Europe or the United States, this season came at the Dubai Desert Classic back in January and he has attributed his run of poor form to a lack of motivation, something he believes he has now rectified.

Of that mediocre form so far in 2015, McDowell has acknowledged: “ and belief; thinking I am done, finished, washed up . . . . all these crazy, human instinct thoughts that go through your mind, and it’s just about trying to get back in the processes and trust what you are doing and knowing that it’s not necessarily going to happen fast. It’s not been fun this year, definitely one of the tougher seasons in the last seven or eight.”

Tough times

“I think it’s important to have a good team of people around you to help you acknowledge it and help you sift through kind of where the problems lie. Is it that you don’t love the game anymore or is it the fact that you just love being home with the family a bit more than normal?”

McDowell is on a three-week stint back in Europe, taking in the French Open, next week’s Scottish Open at Gullane and the following week’s British Open at St Andrews.

And the Albatros course at Paris National – which will play host to the Ryder Cup in 2018 – has proven to be the happiest of hunting grounds for McDowell and the perfect spot, it would seem, to revive his fortunes. He hasn’t missed a cut there since 2009, and his victories in the past two years means he will be seeking to become just the sixth player in European Tour history to win the same tournament for three successive years.

The feat

McDowell is one of six Irish players in action in Paris, along with Darren Clarke, Michael Hoey, Damien McGrane, Paul McGinley and Peter Lawrie, who has received a sponsor’s invitation.

Meanwhile, Luke Donald – who had dropped out of the world’s top-50 – found a route into the Open at St Andrews as one of four players not exempt to finish in the top-10 at the Travelers Championship.

Donald, Carl Pettersson, Brian Harman and Graham DeLaet were also joined on the exempt list by Charley Hoffman, Robert Streb, Kevin Kisner and Steven Bowdith (all top-20 on the FedEx Cup points list) and by Alex Noren and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (top-20 on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings).

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