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Sunday, 01 July 2007

Reuters - England's Graeme Storm came from five strokes behind overnight to win the Open de France ALSTOM title by a shot from 54-hole leader, Denmark's Søren Hansen.

The former Amateur Champion became the European Tour's 14th first time winner of the season as he closed with a five under 66 for a seven under par total of 277.

Eight-time European Number One Colin Montgomerie led with four holes to go but two late bogeys left the Scot in a share of third place with Thomas Björn of Denmark, Ireland's Damien McGrane and Englishman Simon Khan, two strokes behind Storm.

By picking up €666,660 - one of the richest first prizes of the season - Storm also clinched an Open Championship spot from a mini Order of Merit that ended with the Open de France ALSTOM. Bradley Dredge of Wales tied for tenth place to claim the other place at Carnoustie.

Storm's victory ended a seven year wait for success. He was the player who holed Britain and Ireland's winning putt in the 1999 Walker Cup match against America and Storm has now joined his Nairn team mates Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Simon Dyson by visiting the winner's enclosure.

A birdie on the 14th took Storm ahead of the field and the 29 year old Englishman clung onto his lead despite a brave attempt by Hansen to catch him.

The Dane double-bogeyed twice in the first six holes to tumble down the leaderboard but hit back coming home. Hansen needed to hole an unlikely 50ft birdie putt on the last to force a playoff but at least ensured second place by two-putting.

For Storm the long-awaited victory was a rags-to-riches story. After losing his card in 2002-3 he was so short of cash he had to resort to washing baking trays in a cake factory for a living during the winter, earning only £145 for a 40-hour week. A considerable change from his winner’s cheque for €666,660.

His determined success, though, has given him a new outlook.

"Working in a cake factory was a bit of a come-down for me," Storm said. "But in a way it helped me because it showed me the other side of life and how hard you have to work. This win has now changed my life I can’t believe it’s true. It’s like a dream."

Montgomerie's consolation was his best performance since finishing tied second in last year's US Open. The 44 year old Scot's Achilles heel continues to be his putting, however.

A missed three foot putt to bogey the 15th with another miss for par at the 16th took Montgomerie off the top of the leaderboard and subsequently ended his bid to win for the first time in 19 months.

"I'm going to take lots of positives out of this week," Montgomerie said. "I now know if I can putt well I can win. I was leading with four holes to play and didn’t hit bad shots, but bogeyed the 15th and 16th. You have doubts if you can win again, but I now know that if I hole the putts, I can win.”

Hansen, who led Simon Khan by a shot going into the final round, was pleased with  second place which saw him comfortably retain his card for 2008. He said: “I was pleased with the way I fought back after taking two double bogeys on the front nine. It’s a brutal back nine if you are trying to make up shots, but I made a great birdie two at the 16th and was happy to see the ball hit the green at the last from a bad lie.

“It’s been a strange season and I came back strongly and had a putt in the end for a tie and a play-off.”

Björn, who took the lead over the front nine, also had his best result of the season after missing the cut in his last two events.

 

To listen to winner Graeme Storm's final day interview click here.

To listen to a Final day summary of the Open de France ALSTOM click here.

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