Hartlepool golf star Graeme Storm returns to form with third place in French Open

OPEN DISAPPOINTMENT: Graeme Storm
OPEN DISAPPOINTMENT: Graeme Storm

GRAEME Storm may have missed out on regaining his French Open title – but the Hartlepool golfer has cetainly regained his form.

The 35-year-old finished in a tie for third in the Open de France which was won by former US Open champion Graeme McDowell.

Storm has shown glimpses of good form over the 2013 programme but chose the ultra-difficult Le Golf National course where he won in 2007 to prove that he is back.

And the prize money of £145,450 moved him up to 58th in the Race to Dubai, European golf’s league table – the top 60 qualify for the lucrative DP World Tour Championship final in November when the tournament pot is a staggering £5.4million.

But, for Storm, his weekend’s play in Paris is worth as much in confidence as it is in cash – it also meant he has guaranteed his place on the 2014 European Tour.

“It’s fantastic,” Storm said.

“Anytime you finish in the top five in this tournament it’s very good and the way I’ve played this week I fully deserve it.

“I have been playing good all season and I haven’t had the results I deserve.

“I put too much pressure on myself but when I come here I have got a great feeling for the place and wish we could play it every week.”

There is no doubt about that.

Three of his four rounds were under par – the only exception being a two-over-par 73 on Saturday when two birdies were outweighed by four bogeys.

But he went into the last day in serious contention for the title, just three strokes behind overnight leaders McDowell and Richard Sterne.

And he stayed in the hunt all day, finishing equal third on four under par alongside Spain’s Eduardo De La Riva just a stroke behind runner-up Sterne.

But no one could get near McDowell, the Northern Irishman carding a stunning 67 to win the competition by an impressive margin of four shots.

Storm began the day in great style, sinking his birdie putt at the 213-yard par-three second and then showing he was just as good on a par five by getting a second successive birdie at the third.

He slipped up with a bogety at the par four fourth but he responded with a birdie at the sixth,

Storm bogeyed the seventh to drop back to three under but he registered his fourth and final birdie of the day at the massive 607-yard par-five 14th.

It meant he signed for a 69, the same score De La Riva recorded, to add to rounds of 70, 68 and 73.

“I was a little disappointed on Thursday, I dropped few shots coming in which pushed me back,” said Storm, who now heads to the north of Scotland this week for the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

“But I managed to bounce back [on Friday].

“Saturday was a tough day, I didn’t get the score I deserved but yesterday was all about trying to get the memories from 2007.

“I wrote everything in my yardage book from 2007 and I managed to just thrive off it.

“I can enjoy rest of season,

“I don’t have to worry thinking about the card and I can continue trying to progress and become a better player.

“If I can mentally stay as I did this week, stay focused, then you never know what can happen further down the line.”