Wednesday, 02 July 2014
Graeme McDowell   (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)
Defending champion Graeme McDowell admits he has “a spring in his step” ahead of this week's Alstom Open de France after an impressive performance on home soil two weeks ago.

The former US Open Champion came tied for sixth at the Irish Open on his last European Tour appearance, his best  performance in the event.

Only a cold putter over the weekend prevented the Northern Irishman making a more sustained title tilt, and McDowell is keen to put himself in contention again at Le Golf National, the venue for The 2018 Ryder Cup.

“It's always been a golf course which I've enjoyed playing, and I always felt it was a golf course where I could perhaps have a chance to win, so it was great to win here last year,” said McDowell.

“It's always a good buzz when you come to this part of the world, and even more so with The Ryder Cup coming here in 2018.  

“I think there's a good buzz in French golf with some really good, young, up-and-coming players, obviously Victor Dubuisson, and I played with Romain Wattel at the Irish Open who has got a huge amount of potential. 

“Being the defending champion gives you a nice little buzz, a spring in your step and good memories and I'm looking forward to my pairing this week with Victor and the US Open Champion, Martin Kaymer, who is in some amazing form at the minute.

“I'm feeling good and ready for an exciting summer. I feel like I'm in a good space myself and looking forward to it.

“I was inevitably a little bit disappointing with my performance on the weekend [in Ireland], on the greens especially, but I took the positives away from the week. I hit the ball as well as I have this season tee-to-green and put myself in a position to win.”

While McDowell expects the Versailles venue to provide an excellent setting for The Ryder Cup in four years' time, his goal this season is to ensure he is on Paul McGinley's European Team at Gleneagles in September.

“The Ryder Cup, it's always a goal of mine to be part of the team - very much so this year in Scotland,” added McDowell, who holed the winning putt at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010.

“It's going to be a very highly-contested team. The American side is extremely strong, our side is going to be extremely strong, and I want to be there. 

“It's just one of those things that will take care of itself. If I perform, prepare as well as I possibly can this summer, let some good golf get in the way, and The Ryder Cup hopefully will take care of itself. 

“It's not something that I'm going to be thinking about every day I tee it up, but hopefully with a big effort this summer, I should be able to get myself onto that team.

“I think Le Golf National is going to be a fantastic Ryder Cup venue for many reasons. I can think of worse places in the world to stay in than Versailles and the Trianon Palace and great hospitality and great food that we enjoy here.

“But I think from a golf course point of view, the last four or five holes in the natural amphitheatre that this golf course creates, I can only imagine how good the buzz will be, coming down 15 and 16, they are about as good a dramatic risk-reward par three and par four you'll get. 

“Seventeen is a great par four, and for matches that do come down the last, there's going to be not a better par four on The European Tour than the last at Le Golf National. I can really picture 40, 50, 60,000 people up on those slopes around that little cauldron the last four holes and I think the atmosphere will be amazing.

“I think come 2018, there might be a couple of French players on the side and I really feel good things for The Ryder Cup here.”
 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-5
T2STADLER, KevinUSA18-4
T2JAIDEE, ThongchaiTHA18-4
4KARLSSON, RobertSWE18-3
T5DONALDSON, JamieWAL18-2
T5BALDWIN, MatthewENG18-2

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