Thomas Levet (Getty Images)
Thomas Levet produced a superb final-round performance to claim victory on home soil in the Alstom Open de France - 25 years after he first played in the competition.
The 42 year old finished one shot clear of Thorbjørn Olesen and joint overnight leader Mark Foster after holding his nerve in impressive fashion over the notoriously difficult closing stretch at Le Golf National.
While others faltered throughout the day, Levet went round in 70 for the third round out of four this week to finish on seven under.
He becomes the second French winner of the tournament since The European Tour began in 1972, after Jean-François Remesy, who triumphed in 2004 and 2005.
A delighted Levet said: “I’ve played this tournament, I don't know how many times, but now I can play for another ten years or something like that. So it's just absolutely crazy.
“All of my friends were here in the crowd. It's always nice to win in front of your home crowd. The way it went today was just like in a dream.”
Le Golf National will host the Ryder Cup in 2018 and Levet felt the atmosphere today was comparable to previous matches between Europe and the USA.
“Yes, if you have ever been to a Ryder Cup, that's what it is, so imagine what it is going to be like when we have six times more people on the course,” he added.
“I felt like the Tour de France has started, I felt like one of the riders climbing some of the mountains in France with the public all around me shouting my name.
“It was quite crazy from yesterday's first hole to today's last hole, great atmosphere. You can tell your friends, 2018, France is ready.”
Levet’s victory was also an emotional one, with his mother unable to attend the tournament due to illness.
“I was thinking about her a lot because he got sick through Christmas time and got paralysed and could not come to the French Open for the first time in 20 something years,” he explained.
“She is probably watching TV crying, basically, she won't believe it that I won. It's a pleasure.”
Olesen, who finished second at the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi last month, also played wonderfully today and looked set to force a play-off, only to miss a par putt of around three feet at the last.
The 22 year old Dane was understandably proud of his efforts, however, and had the consolation of securing a spot in The Open Championship as a result of his second-placed finish.
“It was great to be out there, the French crowd was amazing,” said Olesen.
“I know they were cheering for Thomas, but still, it was nice. He’s a really nice guy and so we had a lot of fun out there.
“This is the first tournament I've played for such a big crowd so it was a really good experience for me and hopefully next time I can go out and do a little bit better and win.
“I played good and I thought I hit a good putt on 18 but it didn’t go in.”
Foster led for most of the final day and played solidly to par his first 11 holes.
However, a double bogey at the 12th - where he came up short of the green before chipping off the side of it - and another dropped shot at 13 left him with ground to make up and he was unable to drain a 20-foot birdie attempt on the 18th green.
James Morrison had shared the third-round lead with Foster on nine under, but, after starting bogey, double bogey, he posted a 78 to finish in a tie for seventh.
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay also faltered on the final day, carding a birdie-free 76 for a three under aggregate score.
Martin Kaymer was a shot better off in fourth after a closing 73 and the German will now reclaim the World Number Three ranking from US Open Champion Rory McIlroy.