McDowell aims to create some personal history

Graeme McDowell

Phil Casey

FORMER US Open champion Graeme McDowell will have to create a piece of personal history to retain the Alstom Open de France title at Le Golf National in Paris this week.

McDowell has never successfully defended a tournament and all nine of his European Tour victories have come in different countries, namely Sweden, Italy, Korea, Scotland, Wales, the United States, Spain, Bulgaria and France.

The 34-year-old was disappointed not to add Ireland to that list after going into the final round of the Irish Open last month just two shots off the lead, although his share of sixth place was his best finish in 13 appearances in the event.

"It was really from the US Open onwards that I really felt like my game was ticking along nicely," McDowell said at Le Golf National, site of the 2018 Ryder Cup.

"I was inevitably a little bit disappointed 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.

"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 (Dubuisson) and the US Open Champion, Martin Kaymer.

"I had four or five nice days off last week, I've really made a sort of decision this year to pace myself for the summer.

"It's really been a conscious decision to try and have myself in peak condition come July, August, September."

Kaymer won the French Open back in 2009, but missed the cut in his native Germany last week in his first appearance since claiming his second major title at Pinehurst.

"I just didn't play as good. It's that simple," the 29-year-old, European golfer of the month for June, said. "To play in your home country is very, very difficult and I think for a lot of French players this week as well, there are so many expectations from all the people.

"I think it's the toughest tournament you play all year."