Capturing the French Open championship 25 years after he first played the game seems like living out a dream for Thomas Levet.
The 42-year old local hero, who is being eyed as a possible Ryder Cup captain when the event is staged in 2018 at Le Gold National near Paris, triumphed on the course after coming into the event with a world ranking of 352. He got a nail-biting victory worth over £442,000 after a one-under-par 70. His victory actually came after a shot from Mark Foster of England and the Thorbjorn Olesen.
“It was just crazy – the way it went was just like a dream,” he said after Olesen had missed a four-foot par putt on the last and then long-time leader Foster had left a 20-foot birdie attempt short. “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.”
Levet for a five-hole play-off at Muirfield but ended up as Ernie Els’ runner up in the 2002 Open. But while he became qualified last month for Sandwich, Olesen’s higher world ranking got him the one place in the event up for grabs instead of Foster.
Olesen, whose Open appearance will be his first major, said: “It was close, really close. I thought I hit a good putt on the last but hopefully next time I can win.”