Graeme McDowell predicted it might just be possible. "All I can do is go try to shoot 66, 67... there's a 75, 76 waiting for anyone on this golf course." He was spot on as he shot the joint best round of the day - 67 - to capture his 10th European Tour title and put himself back in the Ryder Cup reckoning with a superb putting performance at Le Golf National.
On a day when early rainstorms caused havoc, he bogeyed the last but his four under effort set the clubhouse target of five under par in the Alstom Open de France and asked a question that overnight leader Kevin Stadler could not answer, completing a nightmare day by missing a two foot par putt at the last that would have forced a playoff.
Confessing that the bad weather played into his hands, given his Irish upbringing, McDowell said: "I think the chasing pack needed that. If Kevin Stadler had of had sunshine and flat calm weather today, I think he might have been tough to catch. But the tough conditions today made it really difficult for everyone.
"Yesterday was hard but the rain went away yesterday and it was playable. Today, the rain was there. The wind switched. It got cold and it got pretty miserable out there. It was tough for everyone.
"I figured Kevin probably wouldn't be used to those type of conditions, because I'm not used to those kind of conditions anymore. I play a little bit too much golfer on the PGA TOUR. I'm a little bit soft and a bit of a fair weather golfer these days.
"That goes back to my upbringing a little bit in my teens, playing through all weathers and conditions. Playing golf in bad weather is an art form. Some guys are good at it, some guys are not. I was starting to think maybe I wasn't a good bad weather player anymore.
"But that was nice today. It was nice to hit some good shots under pressure in the weather. Reinforces that, yes, I did grow up in some pretty bad weather and it stands me in good stead on a day like today.
"You need to be ready for all types of weather there, and you know, today I was really just trying to enjoy the challenge and give myself the opportunity. I was really happy with some of the swings I made coming down the stretch and some of the putts I made.
" I didn't expect to win so I feel very fortunate, and very happy, to be sitting here with the trophy."
Stadler carded a 76 to share second on four under with Thongchai Jaidee as Michael Hoey's 72 alongside McDowell for seventh place earned him one of the spots in The Open at Hoylake with fourth place finisher Robert Karlsson (69) and Victor Riu of France (76) who was eighth.
"It was tough and I drove it terrible today," Stadler said. "If you miss the fairway, you're going to get punished out here. That's just the way it is. Played great for a couple of days and had tons of chances and spent all day in the knee-deep stuff today and the score showed it.
"It was so miserable on the front nine today, I was practically expecting to bogey every hole. It was virtually impossible. Just hung in there and obviously made a couple of birdies late to have a chance. It was unfortunate on the last, played a little safe second shot and I felt good over the putt, and just whiffed it unfortunately."
Damien McGrane was in position to earn his spot at Hoylake when he played the first 12 holes in level par.
But he made four bogeys in five holes coming home and ended up tied for 12th on three over after a 75.
McDowell 's decision to play a light early spring and summer schedule looked to have put him behind the proverbial eight-ball as far as the Ryder Cup goes but a cheque for €500,000 and a big haul of world ranking points now puts him in position to make Paul McGinley's European team on merit.
With this win - Graeme McDowell
- His tenth European Tour International Schedule victory in his 257th European Tour event.
- Moves to €931,395 in The Race to Dubai.
- Would move to just outside the top 15 Official World Golf Ranking from 20th.
- His first European Tour victory since the 2013 Alstom Open de France.
- The first time during his European Tour career he has won in consecutive European Tour seasons.
- This victory beats his previous best 2014 European Tour best performance of tied fifth in the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship. (His previous best 2014 European Tour stroke play performance was tied sixth in the Irish Open).
- His first successful defence of a European Tour title.
- His second victory comes in his ninth appearance in the Alstom Open de France.
- Has now two victories in the event and was also fourth in 2004.
- Has now won €1,262,892 from his nine appearances in the event.
- Began the final day eight behind the 54 hole leader, Kevin Stadler. This is the largest final day comeback of the 2014 European Tour season, beating the seven of Rory McIlroy at the BMW PGA Championship.
- Began the final day eight shots behind the 54 hole leader, Kevin Stadler. This matches the largest final round deficit made up in the history of the Alstom Open de France by José Rivero in 1987 and Paul Broadhurst in 1995.
- His eight shot final round comeback is the largest on The European Tour since Rafael Cabrera-Bello, won the 2009 Austrian Golf Open.
- Becomes the 28th different player to win on The European Tour this season, from the 29 events played.
- Becomes the 18th winner this season that has made up a final round deficit to win.
- Becomes just the second player from Northern Ireland, following Darren Clarke (14), to reach ten or more European Tour titles.
- The first player to successfully defend the Alstom Open de France since Jean-Francois Remesy (2004-05).Since the event became part of The European Tour in 1972, becomes the fifth player to win the event in back-to-back years. They are: Peter Oosterhuis (1973-74), Seve Ballesteros (1985-86), Sir Nick Faldo (1988-89), Remesy (2004-05) and McDowell (2013-14).
- Becomes only the second player from Northern Ireland to successfully defend a European Tour title. The first was Darren Clarke (1999-2000 English Open).
- Becomes the first player to successfully defend a European Tour title since Stephen Gallacher (2013-14 Omega Dubai Desert Classic).
- The fifth player to successfully defend a European Tour title this season. They are: Charl Schwartzel (Alfred Dunhill Championship), Miguel Angel Jiménez (Hong Kong Open), Louis Oosthuizen (Volvo Golf Champions), Stephen Gallacher (Omega Dubai Desert Classic) and Graeme McDowell (Alstom Open de France).
- The five successful defences equals the most in a single European Tour season, set in 2000.
- The 36th different player to successfully defend a European Tour title.
- His 13th win as a professional.
- The 51st Northern Irish victory in European Tour history.
- Moves €17 million in European Tour Official Career Earnings.
- Gains a place in the 2014 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational, 2014 WGC – HSBC Champions and 2015 Volvo Golf Champions. (Already exempt for the 2014 Open Championship).
- Moves to 1,381,140 in The European Ryder Cup Points Table.
- Moves to 136.93 in the Ryder Cup World Points List.
More to follow/...