VERSAILLES, July 3, 2011 (AFP) - Thomas Levet of France fired a final round of 70 to pull off an upset home win in the French Open at Le Golf National here on Sunday.
Levet's seven-under par total of 277 left him one stroke clear of Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and Mark Foster of England.
It was 42-year-old Levet's fifth European Tour title and his first since he took the 2009 Spanish Open.
But, emotionally for him, it was the first time he had won his home Open, 25 years after he first played on the French Golf Federation's flagship course outside of Versailles, which was recently awarded the right to host the 2018 Ryder Cup.
He becomes the second French winner of the tournament after Jean-François Remesy, who triumphed in 2004 and 2005.
It also ensures the Ryder Cup player of a berth in this month's Open Championship at Royal St George's in southeast England despite his lowly world ranking of 352.
"It was just crazy - the way it went was just like a dream," Levet said.
"The people were going 'Allez, allez, allez' and some of them go 'Captain, captain'. The atmosphere was great - I felt like one of the Tour de France riders climbing a mountain.
"I had everyone behind me basically the same as a Ryder Cup and it was the same adrenaline rush.
"I was reaching distances I've never reached before, but with experience I knew it was going to happen.
"It's the first time my kids have seen me win. I'm not done yet!"
Joint overnight leaders Mark Foster and James Morrison of England made different starts with Morrison falling away badly and Foster holding firm by parring his first 11 holes.
Ahead of them, the field bunched up with Levet, Scotland's Richie Ramsay and world No.4 Martin Kaymer all moving into contention.
Levet opened with a birdie, but bogeyed the next two holes before bouncing back with birdies at the fourth and sixth holes.
With the course playing the hardest it had all week, Levet ran off seven pars in a row before a birdie on the 14th moved him clear.
Foster, meanwhile, led for most of the final day, but 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
Olesen, the 22-year-old Dane, who finished second at the BMW Italian Open last month, also had a chance to force a play-off with Levet, but he missed a par putt of around three feet at the last.
Kaymer eventually settled for fourth place, three strokes off the lead, after a closing 73, but that was still enough to ensure he reclaims the World No.3 ranking he lost last week to US Open champion Rory McIlroy
Ramsay was fifth a further stroke back, and level with Simon Kahn of England, after also closing with a 73.
Leading scores on Sunday in the final round of the French Open at the par-71, Le Golf National course:
277 - Thomas Levet (FRA) 70-70-67-70
278 - Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 66-71-71-70, Mark Foster (ENG) 68-68-68-74
280 - Martin Kaymer (GER) 71-69-67-73
281 - Richie Ramsay (SCO) 69-68-68-76, Simon Khan (ENG) 70-70-70-71
282 - Brendan Steele (USA) 74-70-67-71, Hennie Otto (RSA) 69-71-71-71, James Morrison (ENG) 66-66-72-78
283 - Anthony Wall (ENG) 68-73-69-73
284 - Richard Green (AUS) 65-68-76-75, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 69-70-71-74, Lorenzo Gagli (ITA) 72-67-73-72, Graeme Storm (ENG) 65-75-71-73
285 - Daniel Gaunt (AUS) 75-69-69-72, Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 72-70-70-73, Michael Jonzon (SWE) 68-74-75-68, Rhys Davies (WAL) 71-72-70-72, Ignacio Garrido (ESP) 72-71-71-71, Bradley Dredge (WAL) 72-68-69-76
286 - Peter Whiteford (SCO) 68-72-75-71, Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 70-71-69-76, Matthew Zions (AUS) 71-71-74-70, Peter Lawrie (IRL) 74-70-72-70, Gregory Havret (FRA) 71-70-70-75