French Open: Graeme McDowell retains title as Kevin Stadler falters
|French Open final leaderboard|
|-5||G McDowell (NI)|
|-4||K Stadler (US), T Jaidee (Tha)|
|-3||R Karlsson (Swe)|
|-2||M Baldwin (Eng), J Donaldson (Wal)|
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell retained his French Open title as overnight leader Kevin Stadler let slip a four-shot advantage on the final day.
McDowell, 34, started the day eight shots adrift of Stadler, but a final-round 67 gave him a one-shot victory.
Stadler, who finished in a tie for second with Thongchai Jaidee, missed a three-foot putt on the 18th to force a play-off at Le Golf National.
"This is a really good kick-start to my summer," said McDowell.
"I feel very fortunate. Kevin Stadler is a great, great player. I really needed this victory. It's a special one for me."
The win, his first since this tournament last year, improves McDowell's chances of securing a place on the European Ryder Cup team in Gleneagles in September.
Stadler's overnight lead was wiped out in the space of eight holes as he struggled to cope in wet and windy conditions.
The son of former United States Ryder Cup player Craig Stadler missed from 18 inches for par on the fourth before bogeying the sixth and double bogeying the seventh.
Another bogey followed on eight and McDowell moved into a share of the lead with his third birdie of the day on the 13th, picking up further strokes at 14 and 16 to go clear.
Stadler went bogey-birdie-bogey from the 10th to fall three adrift of the Northern Irishman, but birdies at 14 and 16 drew him back into contention.
McDowell's first bogey of the day on 18 meant the pair were tied at five under with Stadler playing the 17th, but a three-putt from 25 feet on the last saw him slip into second alongside Jaidee.
Swede Robert Karlsson finished a shot further back to secure his place in the Open at Royal Liverpool this month.
McDowell's countryman Michael Hoey and Frenchman Victor Riu did likewise by finishing seventh and eighth respectively.
US Open champion Martin Kaymer started the day at three under but a 77 saw the German fall to three over.