Pony-tailed Marcel Siem of Germany won the French Open at Le Golf National yesterday to end an eight-year winless drought.
He closed with a 67 for an eight-under-par total of 276 and a one-stroke victory over Italy’s Francesco Molinari who carded a day’s best 64.
It was 31-year-old Siem’s first Tour win since the Dunhill Championship at Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg eight years ago.
France’s home hope Raphael Jacquelin was alone in third a further stroke back after signing for a 69.
Molinari started the day eight behind joint leaders David Howell and Anders Hansen but he quickly overtook them and finished with a 12-foot putt at the last for a remarkable nine birdies in 16 holes, an inward half of 29 and a best of the week 64.
The Italian Ryder Cup player then sat back and waited to see if anyone could match him with the leaders two hours away from the end of their day.
For a while it looked like he might stay atop the leaderboard only for Siem to sneak closer and then go in front by splashing out of the sand to seven feet at the long 14th.
But he still had the tough closing four holes at the Albatross course to negotiate where water is an omnipresent threat.
A birdie at 15 put him two ahead and that proved to be crucial as he bogeyed the treacherous par-four last.
Excited though he was, Siem declined to follow the example of last year’s winner, Thomas Levet of France, who promptly jumped into a greenside lake and broke a leg.
“I’m just going to have some nice French champagne,” the German said. “I’ve had so many tournaments I kind of destroyed this year and I am so happy I got it done.
“It’s all about winning in the end and now I’m in The (British) Open, which is unbelievable.”
South Africa’s George Coetzee started the final round in third place just two off the pace but a poor first few holes and then a back nine of 40 saw him limp home in 76 to tie for 17th on 284 with compatriot Branden Grace who has already won three times on the European Tour this season.
Retief Goosen, after a hot outward loop, closed within just two shots of the lead yesterday but he also had a poor back nine of 40 ugly blows as he drifted out to a 73 to tie for 23rd spot on 285.
Richard Sterne had a 72 for 287 (tied 31st) while Jaco van Zyl finished strongly with a 69 for 288 to share 37th spot.
Seeking his fourth PGA Tour title, Simpson coolly birdied four of the last six holes for a five-under-par 65 on the Old White TPC Course to post a 14-under total of 196.
The 26-year-old signed off in style, rolling in a 20-footer on the 18th green to finish two ahead of fellow American Kelly who rocketed up the leaderboard with a flawless eight-birdie 62.