Former Ryder Cup player Thomas Levet dedicated victory to Seve Ballesteros after lifting the Spanish Open trophy in Girona today.
Levet fought off a succession of challenges to claim his fifth European Tour title – a record for a French player – by two strokes from Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti.
Two shots further back in joint third were Ireland’s Peter Lawrie, who had mounted a great bid to make the first successful defence since Max Faulkner in 1953, and Dane Thomas Bjorn.
Ballesteros underwent four operations late last year after the discovery of a brain tumour and is still having chemotherapy.
“I always think about Seve, he is having a hard time at the moment,” said 40-year-old Levet, who took the first prize of just under £300,000 with a closing 68 and 18-under-par total of 270.
Then, looking into a television camera, he added: “Seve, I dedicate this win to you.”
Asked what he most admired about the former world number one, whose record 50 victories on the circuit included three Spanish Opens, Levet replied: “His fight, and that’s what I did today.”
He needed to. Two ahead overnight, he found himself two behind after four holes with playing partner Stuart Davis bursting out of the traps – appropriately enough for a man sponsored by the Nottingham greyhound track – with three successive birdies.
Davis, a Tour rookie despite being 35, fell away to 15th place with a 78, but Zanotti, Lawrie and Bjorn then came on strong.
Zanotti, a 25-year-old South American, had never previously posted a top-10 finish on the circuit, but he had nine birdies in a best-of-the-day 65.
It was not enough, though. From one in front with four to play Levet sank an eight-foot putt at the long 15th and then birdied the 460-yard 17th as well.