Champagne for Siem as victory earns Open spot
Pony-tailed German Marcel Siem came up with a dream way to burst into the world's top 100 for the first time today.
Eight years after his only previous European Tour victory, Siem (31) 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 British Open, took continental Europe's oldest golf title with a superb closing 67 and an eight-under-par total of 276.
He began the week 120th in the world rankings, but has moved into the top 60 in one mighty leap -- and picked up a cheque for just under €530,000. Last year's champion Thomas Levet jumped into the lake to celebrate and broke his leg, but the ever-excitable Siem sensibly stayed 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 going to be good enough.
Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry tied 17th on even-par, each winning €38,692. McDowell dropped three shots in a nightmare first two holes, but four birdies in a sweet six-hole stretch on the back nine, followed by a bogey at 17, left him with a 72.
Lowry rebounded from a bogey at one to post a rock-steady, one-under 70. Peter Lawrie (75) tied 53rd on eight-over, earning €12,285.
World No 3 Lee Westwood climbed 18 places to 40th with a closing 70, a day after looking like he might pull out with knee and groin trouble after he slipped walking to the first tee. "The leg is fine -- it wasn't a problem," he said.
• Des Smyth picked up his second top-10 finish in six European Senior Tour outings this year, a final-round 66 lifting him into a four-way tie for fourth on eight-under at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in the Swiss mountains.
Smyth received €12,334 for his trouble after finishing four behind American Tim Thelen, who clinched his second Senior Tour title in seven days with a closing 67.
Denis O'Sullivan also shot 67 to earn a share of 20th, while Philip Walton finished 50th after his one-over-par 71.