Thomas Levet turned his season around in dramatic fashion on Sunday when he won his home French Open by a stroke.
The former Ryder Cup player’s one-under-par 70 for a seven-under 277 total was just enough to edge out runners-up Mark Foster of Britain and rookie Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.
Levet ended a two-year wait for a win and also changed the outlook of his season. He had missed two successive cuts coming into the event and languished 105th on the European rankings.
“It’s unbelievable to win this tournament, a dream,” a soaking Levet told reporters after first being doused in champagne and then jumping into the lake at the 18th. “I fought like crazy today and waited for things to happen and on a tough course like this they did happen.”
The Frenchman had looked as though another attempt at taking his home title had gone by when he made early bogeys at the National course, which will host the 2018 Ryder Cup.
However, the 42-year-old 2004 Ryder Cup winner, urged on by a huge and enthusiastic gallery and holing some outrageous putts, overtook early front-runner Foster and held his cool to pick up his sixth European Tour title.
His playing-partner Olesen looked odds-on to join him in a playoff with the pair locked together on the last hole.
The young Dane, though, missed a two-foot putt on the final green to bogey. His consolation was to earn a British Open spot as best-placed finisher of players not already exempt.
Levet had already qualified and Olesen’s better world ranking gave him the Royal St George’s slot over Foster.
While Olesen had the satisfaction of chalking up a third second place in his first year on tour, for Foster it was another tournament that slipped through his fingers.
Last week he led going into the final round of the BMW International Open and finished tied third. This time he shared the lead with Briton James Morrison after three rounds, but still failed to add to his only title, the 2003 Dunhill Championship.
Martin Kaymer replaced US Open champion Rory McIlroy as world No. 3, but the German’s error-strewn first 12 holes showed the remodeling of his swing was not complete.
A 73 left him in fourth place on four-under, three adrift of Levet.
“I made too many mistakes to win, but I know I’m hitting the ball more solidly every week and I’m looking forward to the British Open,” Kaymer said.
A 78 by Morrison relegated him to seventh place, five strokes behind Levet.
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