Levet lands French crown to delight home support
Rory McIlroy’s short-lived reign as world No 3 ended yesterday when Martin Kaymer overtook him by finishing fourth in the French Open after carding a final round of 73 to finish on four-under-par overall.
However, the day belonged to local hero Thomas Levet. With deafening chants of “allez, allez” and “captain, captain” ringing in his ears, Levet rode the emotion to capture a sixth Race to Dubai title with a final round of 70 to win by a stroke on seven-under-par. Levet, ranked 352nd in the world, collected a e500,000 first-prize cheque on the course where, in seven years’ time, he could very well be a Ryder Cup vice-captain.
“Winning the French Open is like winning a Major for me,” he said. “It was just amazing out there playing in front of so many French fans. I felt like a rider at the Tour de France leading up one of the mountain stages. So tell your friends that, for 2018, France is ready.”
Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, who played alongside Levet, blew the chance to send the event into a play-off when he missed a two-foot putt at the last to share second place with England’s Mark Foster.
Olesen carded a final-round 74 to finish on six-under but there was joy for Olesen as his world ranking of 169 earned him a place in next week’s British Open championship as Foster is ranked lower, in 210th spot.
Peter Lawrie was among a handful not to record a double-bogey in a round of 70 for a two-over-par tally in sunny, but very windy, conditions.
Paul McGinley birdied the 15th but finished double-bogey, bogey, bogey and double-bogey in a score of 79 for a share of 62nd place at 14-over-par.
Belfast’s Michael Hoey was among four players to post scores of 80 or worse. The recent Madeira Islands Open winner dropped five shots over his closing two holes, finishing double, triple for an 18-over-par total.
Meanwhile, Nick Watney claimed a two-stroke victory at the AT&T National in Pennsylvania as KJ Choi’s challenge stumbled in the closing holes.
Watney had entered the final round in a share of the lead with Rickie Fowler after posting a course record eight-under-par 62 on Saturday, but he could not shake off Korean Choi.
The pair were level at 12-under-par playing the par-four 15th, but Choi found the rough off the tee, hit a bunker with his second and fired his third through the back of the green and could not get down in fewer than six shots.
Choi hit back by getting a birdie on the 16th, but that feat was matched by Watney, who parred the final two holes to secure a second victory this season.
It was a nightmare day for Ryder Cup star Fowler as the 22-year-old failed to recover from a double bogey at the second, eventually carding a four-over-par 74 to end the tournament in a tie for 13th at five-under.
Australia’s Robert Allenby had at one point looked set to haul himself into contention for victory when his ace at the par-three 14th moved him to nine-under overall, just two shots behind Watney at that time.
But a bogey at the 15th sapped the momentum from his challenge as he finished in an eventual tie for sixth with Chris Stroud.