Pony-tailed German Marcel Siem came up with a dream way to burst into the world’s top 100 for the first time yesterday.
Eight years after his only previous European Tour victory, the 31-year-old won the Alstom French Open by a stroke from Italian Francesco Molinari at Le Golf National near Paris.
Siem, whose performance also earns him a place in the Open Championship, took continental Europe’s oldest golf title with a superb closing 67 and eight-under-par total of 276. Worksop pair Lee Westwood and Mark Foster failed to challenge over the weekend. Foster ended the tournament tied 28th after rounds of 72 and 71 while Westwood had to settle for 40th following efforts of 76 and 70.
Sheffield’s Danny Willett had a weekend to forget as he carded an 80 on Saturday and 74 yesterday to finish tied for 68th.
Siem began the week 120th on the rankings, but has moved into the top 60 in one mighty leap - and picked up a cheque for just under £420,000.
Last year’s champion Thomas Levet jumped into the lake to celebrate and broke his leg, but thrilled though he was and excitable though he is - nobody has more fist-pumps on the course - Siem sensibly decided to stay out of the water. “I’m just going to have some nice French champagne,” he 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 Open, which is unbelievable.”
Molinari, who lost a play-off to Miguel Angel Jimenez on the course two years ago, threatened to pull off an astonishing win after double-bogeying the opening hole.
He was eight behind at that point, but then grabbed nine birdies and set the target with a best-of-the-week 64.
Siem was joint leader at the time and responded by splashing out of sand to seven feet at the long 14th, then hitting a glorious iron to four feet on the dangerous next. There were still three tough holes to come, but he parred the first two and after driving into a bunker on the last achieved the bogey which he knew was probably going to be good enough.
French hope Raphael Jacquelin could have forced sudden death by holing his second to the 18th, but a par four left him third on his own on six under.
One stroke further back were English trio Ian Poulter, David Lynn and joint overnight leader David Howell.