Frustrating day for Northern Ireland trio at Alstom Open de France

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin endured a frustrating day at the Alstom Open de France.

McDowell and Hoey battled to respective rounds of two-over-par to trail leader Kevin Stadler by eight shots going into Sunday’s final day.

Maybin laboured to a round of five-over-par – four over for the tournament.

McDowell and Hoey are tied for seventh spot following Saturday’s trials and tribulations while Maybin slipped to joint 39th.

After bogeys on the first and fourth, McDowell got back on track with a birdie from 20 feet on the fifth and another on the sixth, where his chip from the back of the green was travelling at pace before hitting the pin and dropping into the hole.

And when a superb approach to the seventh set up a tap-in to complete his hat-trick, the Northern Irishman was in red figures for the day and four under for the tournament.

Another birdie followed from five feet on the ninth, but a poor drive then cost the former US Open champion a bogey on the 10th, with another bogey at the 13th and double bogey at the next ruining his chances.

Hoey picked up two birdies in his front nine before picking up another shot at the 10th.

His round then started to unravel with double bogeys at the 11th and 16th, with a bogey also at the 13th.

American Stadler remains on course for a wire-to-wire victory after a testing third round which saw just three players break 70.

Stadler held a one-shot lead after a flawless opening 64 and extended his advantage to three shots thanks to a second round of 68, despite suffering a dreaded shank on his way to a double-bogey seven on his final hole.

And although the world number 62 could only manage a one-over-par 72 today, the wet and windy conditions meant he finished the day four ahead of France’s Victor Riu and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.

Jaidee’s 69 would have been even better if not for a bogey on the 18th, while US Open champion Martin Kaymer is six off the lead after a 70.

“I think since the first day he’s running away a little bit, so I guess he likes the golf course as much as I do,” Kaymer said of Stadler, who won his first PGA Tour title in Phoenix in February. “So I think it will be difficult to catch him.

“If the weather stays like this, I just need to shoot a very, very low score tomorrow. If you get within two or three shots of him, he might get some nerves the last three or four holes because it’s a tough finish.

“But the way he plays golf and the way I know him, he’s a very laid-back guy so it will be difficult to catch him. I can only try to shoot as low as I can to be happy with myself.

“It’s a little tight,” the 34-year-old added. “It’s been a little out of whack all week. Luckily didn’t give me a whole lot of trouble the first couple of days, but it today it turned up a bit. I’m still able to swing so should be fine.

“I got about what I deserved out of my game today. I didn’t play that great, made a whole lot of pars and did not have nearly as many looks (for birdie) as I had the last couple days, but you can’t expect to play that well for four days in a row.”