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Colsaerts back to winning ways in Paris

Colsaerts back to winning ways in Paris

Nicolas Colsaerts won his first European Tour title in seven years as Le Golf National lived up to its reputation on a dramatic closing day of the Amundi Open de France.

Nicolas Colserts

The big hitting Belgian entered Sunday with a three shot lead and quickly extended that to five in testing wet conditions but the oldest championship in continental Europe would go right to the wire during one of the most incredible back nines of the 2019 Race to Dubai.

George Coetzee led by two with six to play and Joachim B Hansen was in the box seat after the leading pair found water on the 15th, but Colsaerts held his nerve to sign for a 72 and get to 12 under.

Dane Hansen carded a closing 68 to finish a shot behind, one clear of South African Coetzee, who signed for a level par 71.

The victory is Colsaerts' third on the European Tour but first since 2012, the season he was part of the Miracle at Medinah as Europe came from 10-4 behind to win the Ryder Cup.

Le Golf National took its own place in Ryder Cup history last year as it hosted another European victory and that drama was almost matched over the famous closing stretch on Sunday.

Colsaerts chipped in for an eagle on the 14th to retake the lead but double bogeyed the next to slip back, only for Hansen to make a double of his own on the 17th and put Colsaerts back in pole position.

The 36-year-old had entered the week in a fight to keep his card and cut an emotional figure as he ended a victory drought of seven years and five months in his 389th European Tour appearance.

"It's very, very special," he said. "The French Open for me is very special because I'm French-speaking.

"I've been coming here for I don't know how many years, it's been a long road. So many people have supported me over the years, that's why I get so emotional. I went through up and downs for so many years now."

He added: "We knew the last four holes are always pretty dramatic, I proved it with hitting it in the water on 15. I don't know what happened on 17 with JB but it was a bit of a surprise when I got on to the green. I thought I was still going to be one behind."

Colsaerts' lead was quickly extended to five as he picked up a shot on the first with an approach to two feet, with nearest overnight contender Coetzee surrendering a bogey after finding water off the tee.

A bogey on the second after a poor chip dropped the leader back to 13 under but both he and Coetzee took advantage of the par five third before Colsaerts took a long three putt on the fifth and failed to get up and down on the sixth.

Coetzee had to play his second at the ninth with his feet in the water but when he rolled a very long putt up the slope and in from off the green, the lead was down to one after the birdie of the week.

Hansen had made the most of the third and while he gave the shot back on the next, smart approaches to the sixth and tenth meant he was just two back.

Coetzee then put his approach to the tenth to four feet and a tee shot to even closer range on the 11th had him in the lead after a hat-trick of birdies.

Colsaerts failed to get up and down on the 12th to trail by two but picked the shot back up from ten feet on the 13th, where Hansen had moments earlier birdied from similar distance.

Hansen took advantage of the par five 14th from 16 feet to get within one but Colsaerts spectacularly chipped in for eagle on the same hole and he was back in front.

Coetzee's chances disappeared on the next as he found the water twice for a triple bogey but Colsaerts was also wet with his second and a double meant that Hansen was suddenly in the lead.

The 29-year-old came up just short of the green at the par four 17th but put his first putt over and off the putting surface, needing three more for a double bogey that edged Colsaerts back into a lead he would not give up.

American Kurt Kitayama recovered from a quadruple bogey on the second with birdies on the third, 12th, 13th and 17th in a 71 that left him at nine under, one ahead of two time Major winner and 2009 champion Martin Kaymer, Ireland's Gavin Moynihan and Scot Richie Ramsay.

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