Thongchai Jaidee cruises to four-stroke victory at Open de France
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 03/07/16 6:48pm
Thongchai Jaidee became the oldest winner in Open de France history by easing to a four-stroke win at Le Golf National.
The world No 57 posted a three-under 68, at the home of the 2018 Ryder Cup, to finish five shots clear of nearest challenger Francesco Molinari.
Top seed Rory McIlroy struggled to mount a title challenge as he ended in third ahead of Rafa Cabrera Bello, as Martin Kaymer and Andy Sullivan's bids slipped away over the closing holes.
Resuming two strokes clear after a bogey-free 68 on Saturday, Jaidee saw his lead increase when McIlroy missed a three-footer at the par-five third.
Four birdies in a row from the third lifted Molinari in to outright second, as Jaidee briefly extended his advantage to five by follow a gain at the third with a five-foot birdie at the sixth.
Kaymer made his move up the leaderboard by holing a long birdie-two at the eighth and adding a fourth gain of the round at the 10th to get within three, while Molinari lost ground with back-to-back blemishes around the turn.
As Kaymer dropped the first of three shots in a four-hole stretch at the 12th, Jaidee restored a five-stroke cushion when a wonderful tee-shot set up a birdie at the 11th.
Jaidee's next challenge came from Sullivan, who got within three after birdieing the 12th and draining a hat-trick of gains from the 14th. The Englishman then missed a six-foot par save at the 17th and found the water on his way to a triple-bogey at the last, closing a one-under 70.
Back-to-back birdies over the closing stretch saw Molinari set the clubhouse target at seven under, with McIlroy finishing a further stroke back after posting his only gain of the day at the 14th.
Jaidee coaxed home a birdie-three at the 15th to get 12 under and could afford a tap-in bogey at the last, his first blemish in 39 holes, on his way to a first win of 2016.
"It's my biggest win ever," Jaidee said. "I played great this week, no complaints at all. I had Rory two shots behind me but I tried to play my own game, hit a lot of fairways and greens and I knew this week I was putting well.
"I said to family I wanted to get back into the top 50 so this is going to be very good for me. The Open is my favourite tournament, so I am very excited to see what I can do in two weeks."
Sullivan ended in tied-fifth alongside Kaymer and Brandon Stone, who joined Alex Noren, Callum Shinkwin and Richard Sterne in qualifying for the 145th Open at Royal Troon by finishing inside the top-12.
Defending champion Bernd Wiesberger carded a final-round 75 to end 10 strokes off the pace alongside Lee Westwood, as Jeunghun Wang birdied the last to complete an eventful final-round 78.