Nicolas Colsaerts ended a seven-year wait for his third victory on the European Tour with a nail-biting win at the French Open in Paris.
The 36-year-old Belgian, who was 114th in the money list at the start of the week, and struggling to keep his card for next season, held a five-stroke lead two holes into the final round at Le Golf National.
But on day when all the main contenders struggled to cope with the cold conditions at the 2018 Ryder Cup venue, Colsaerts saw that lead turn into a one-shot deficit, first when South Africa’s George Coetzee birdied 9, 10 and 11 and Colsearts bogeyed 12, and then after the Belgian double-bogeyed 15 and handed the lead to Sweden’s Joachim Hansen, after Coetzee had treble-bogeyed the same hole.
Hansen then saw his hopes of landing his first tour title evaporate with a costly double-bogey at 17, four putting from off the green, to hand the advantage back to Colsearts once more.
He didn’t need a second invitation, and the big-hitting Belgian secured his first win since the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship with pars at the last three hole for a closing 72 and a 12-under-par total.
Hansen held on to second, with Coetzee two back in third ahead of Kurt Kitayama, while Martin Kaymer claimed a share of fifth alongside Richie Ramsay and Gavin Moynihan.
Colsaerts, who secured his playing rights to the end of 2021 with the win, was close to tears at the enormity of his achievement sank in. He said: “I’ve been through so many up and downs over the years, so to come here to the French Open, as a French speaker, and win the tournament is very, very special. So many people have supported me over the years, that’s why I get so emotional.”