Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland hits the ball at the ninth hole during the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 6, 2014. Image Credit: Reuters

Riyadh: Graeme McDowell brilliantly defended his overnight lead in windy conditions on Sunday to win the Saudi International for his 11th European Tour title but first since 2014.

The Northern Irishman had slipped to two-over par for the round after 13 holes, but back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes gave the 2010 US Open champion an easy walk up the 18th hole at the Royal Greens Golf Club.

McDowell made a nervy par on the final hole, but his even-par 70 took him to 12-under par 268 to seal a two-shot win over defending champion Dustin Johnson.

The American former world number one closed with a three-under par 67 and an eagle on the final hole — his second of the day — lifted him to solo second place at 10-under par 270.

Thomas Pieters of Belgium had set the clubhouse marker for a long time after a round of 65 at nine-under par, where he was later joined by Phil Mickelson (67) and Gavin Green (70), who were eventually tied third.

It was the 16th international win for the 40-year-old McDowell, who is expected to rise to inside the top 50 of the world rankings from his current 104th place.