PARIS -- Eight years after his only previous European Tour victory, Marcel Siem won the Alstom French Open by a stroke over Italian Francesco Molinari at Le Golf National on Sunday.
The pony-tailed German, whose performance also earns him a place in the British Open, took continental Europe's oldest golf title with a superb closing 67 and an 8-under-par total of 276.
He began the week 120th in the world rankings, but has moved into the top 60 in one mighty leap.
Last year's champion Thomas Levet jumped into the lake next to the 18th green to celebrate and broke his leg, but thrilled though he was Siem sensibly decided to stay out of the water.
"I'm just going to have some nice French champagne," he said. "I've had so many tournaments I kind of destroyed this year and I am so happy I got it done. It's all about winning in the end and now I'm in the Open, which is unbelievable."
Molinari, who lost a playoff to Miguel Angel Jimenez here two years ago, threatened to pull off an astonishing win after double-bogeying the opening hole. He was eight behind at that point, but then grabbed nine birdies and set the target with a best-of-the-week 64.
Siem was tied for the lead at the time and responded by splashing out of the sand to seven feet at the long 14th, then hitting a glorious iron to four feet on the dangerous next.
There were still three tough holes to come, but he parred the first two. And after driving into a bunker on the last, he achieved the bogey that he knew was probably going to be good enough.
French hope Raphael Jacquelin could have forced sudden death by holing his approach shot on the par-4 18th, but a par left him third on his own on 6 under.
One stroke further back were Englishmen Ian Poulter, David Lynn and overnight co-leader David Howell. While Howell could never make amends for bogeying two of the first three holes, Poulter had a share of the lead for a while, but bogeyed the final two holes for a 69.
Molinari's second place lifts him into an automatic qualifying position for the Ryder Cup with only seven weeks of the race to go.
The 10th and final spot has changed in the last three weeks. First Nicolas Colsaerts was replaced by Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, then it was Rafa Cabrera-Bello and now it is Molinari, a member of Colin Montgomerie's winning side two years ago.
"Just a crazy day really," said Molinari. "Two years ago when I was second, I double bogeyed the first on the last day. All of a sudden, everything was going in."
Justin Rose tied for ninth and Graeme McDowell was in a tie for 17th, while world No. 3 Lee Westwood climbed 18 places to 40th with a closing 70. That came a day after it looked as if he might be pulling out with knee and groin trouble after he slipped walking to the first tee.
"The leg is fine -- it wasn't a problem today," Westwood said, after completing his final round before the Open at Royal Lytham starting a week from Thursday.