Monday 5 December 2016

McDowell survives early storm to fight back in Paris

Published 03/07/2015 | 02:30

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland plays his third shot on the 14th fairway during Alstom Open de France - Day One at Le Golf National on Thursday
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland plays his third shot on the 14th fairway during Alstom Open de France - Day One at Le Golf National on Thursday

Thunderstorms interrupted Graeme McDowell's momentum at the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National as he fought back to finish the day's action on one-over-par as play was halted while he still had one hole to play.

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The defending champion was three-over on the 11th hole but birdies on the 15th and 17th put the Portrush man back in sight of the leaders before weather stopped play.

Austria's Bernd Wiesberger, home favourite Victor Dubuisson and South African Jaco Van Zyl shared the clubhouse lead on three-under par. German Maximilian Kieffer finished the day on four-under par through 14 holes, while Michael Hoey completed his round in one-over-par 72.

McDowell successfully defended a title for the first time in his career 12 months ago and would become the first player since Marcel Dallemagne in 1938 to win the French Open three times in succession with another victory. He would also become just the sixth player to claim a hat-trick of European Tour titles in the same event.

Dropping

After starting from the 10th, Wiesberger carded four birdies in his first 14 holes before dropping his only shot of the day on the par-three eighth.

Wiesberger lost a play-off for the Irish Open at the end of May and has recorded four other top-10 finishes this season in pursuit of a third European Tour title.

"Except for Wentworth where I played terribly", Wiesberger said. "I like the courses where you are challenged a bit more and are not shooting 15-, 16- or 17-under par to win."

Dubuisson had been one-over after five holes, but birdied the 18th after his approach cleared the water in front of the green by just a few feet and also picked up shots on the third, fifth and seventh. The Ryder Cup star almost found water with his tee-shot on the ninth but scrambled a par to the delight of the home fans.

Marvel Maguire at ease amongst pros

The world's leading amateur Leona Maguire felt right at home amongst the elite field of professionals teeing it up at the Ladies European Masters.

The 20-year-old from Cavan, playing on a sponsor's invite, carded an impressive first round of three-under-par 69 to leave her three shots off the lead at The Buckinghamshire near London.

The Duke University star got to four-under before her only bogey of the day at the penultimate hole left her three behind first France's Sophie Giquel-Bettan.

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