Jaidee eases to victory in Paris
Thongchai Jaidee claimed his eighth European Tour title as he cruised to a comfortable victory at the 100th Open de France. Francesco Molinari finished second for the third time in six years, while Rory McIlroy had to settle for third place.
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The Thai was a picture of consistency over the weekend at Le Golf National, carding two consecutive rounds of 68 to get to 11 under thanks to a run of 39 bogey-free holes, and claiming a four-shot triumph over Italy's Francesco Molinari, who carded the low round of the day with a 66. World Number Four Rory McIlroy finished at six under with a closing 71 and Brandon Stone, Alex Noren, Callum Shinkwin and Richard Sterne earned their places at the Open Championship by finishing in the top 12.
Jaidee's victory marks the first time that the European Tour has had seven Asian victories in the same season, with the 46 year old also becoming the oldest winner in Open de France history, beating 2010 champion Miguel Angel Jiménez by 58 days. He came into the final day with a two-shot lead and extended that to five on three occasions as the chasing pack failed to put him under any great pressure and a closing bogey on the toughest hole on Tour last year failed to take the gloss off a fine victory. "I'm very happy to have my family here this week together and also really happy to win the tournament here," he said. "I know the golf course is fantastic. I've been here many, many years and I think especially this week, it's a special week for me to win the tournament out here. Sometimes you need one perfect week. You can't do well every week. This week is my perfect week because I didn't miss much. Anything I missed, I found I could lay up and make a good shot and make par and that's it."
Molinari made the early charge with a run of four birdies from the third while Martin Kaymer birdied the second after a brilliant tee-shot to close range and added another on the fifth. Jaidee was going about his business with the minimum of fuss and he rolled his third shot from the fringe to within tap-in range on the par five third and then birdied the sixth for the fourth time this week as he put his approach to four feet. When Molinari bogeyed the ninth the lead was five shots but Kaymer set about cutting that gap with a beautiful putt down the slope on the eighth and he made another gain on the tenth after a smart par save at the turn.
Jaidee birdied the 11th and bogeys on the 12th, 14th and 15th saw Kaymer's challenge fade while Molinari recovered with a birdie-birdie finish to claim second place. Andy Sullivan looked like he would be the man to make a late charge as he birdied the 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th to cut the gap to three shots but a bogey on the 17th coupled with a Jaidee birdie on the 15th re-established the five-shot cushion with three holes to play. Rafa Cabrera Bello carded a closing 67 to claim fourth place on five under, a shot clear of Kaymer, Stone and Sullivan who all finished with rounds of 70. Noren was then alone at three under, a shot clear of Shinkwin and Joost Luiten, with Sterne in the group at one under after a bogey-bogey finish failed to deny him a place at Royal Troon.
With rounds of 71 and 70 respectively, Mathieu Decottignies-Lafon and Julien Quesne tied for sixteenth and shared the honor of ranking as the leading French players.
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