Nicolas Colsaerts came out on top of a dramatic finale in France to claim his first title in over 7 years at the Amundi Open de France
Alex Noren became the unlikely winner at Le Golf National during a dramatic finish in Paris a year ago, and the venue once more lived up to its reputation as Nicolas Colsaerts ended a wait of 2,709 days to win the third European Tour title of his career on Sunday at the Amundi Open de France.
Colsaerts began the day with a three stroke lead but battled the conditions and tough challenges from George Coetzee and J.B Hansen and a dramatic finish as he fired a one-over 72 to win by one stroke - his first victory since 2012.
"It's very, very special," said Colsaerts. "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.
"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."
Having begun the final round with a three shot cushion, Colsaerts quickly established control with an opening hole birdie while Coetzee found the water off the tee, handing the 36-year-old a five stroke lead from the first.
The Belgian player quickly dropped his first shot of the day to fall back to 13-under-par, and while he and Coetzee traded birdies at the third, Colsaerts then three putted the fifth and couldn't get up and down at the sixth for his lead to drop back to two shots.
At the ninth Coetzee halved the gap at the top of the leadboard with an impressive, lengthy birdie putt, and moved out in front on his own after following it with back-to-back gains on the 10th and 11th holes to get to 13-under-par.
Coetzee briefly opened up a two stroke lead with six to play as Colsaerts dropped a shot on 12, while up ahead J.B. Hansen began a birdie run of his own from the 13th to 15th holes to gain a share at the top.
Colsaerts quickly recovered with a birdie on 13 and an eagle at the par-five 14th to regain a one stroke lead at 14-under, and stayed out ahead by one as all three players made errors over the final stretch: Hansen double-bogeyed the 17th to post the clubhouse lead at 11-under, while Colsaerts made his own double on 15, and Coetzee ended up with a triple-bogey at the same hole to fall back to 10-under.
With three holes to play, Colsaerts battled well. He managed to get up and down for par at the par-three 16th from the fringe, added a two-putt par on 17th, and tapped in for victory at the 18th.