Havret wrestles Tiger to come close to major coup
US Open runner-up Frenchman Gregory Havret had mixed emotions after living every struggling golfer's dream on Sunday when he went toe to toe with Tiger Woods in the final round at Pebble Beach.india Updated: Jun 21, 2010 11:21 IST
US Open runner-up Frenchman Gregory Havret had mixed emotions after living every struggling golfer's dream on Sunday when he went toe to toe with Tiger Woods in the final round at Pebble Beach.
A virtual unknown in the upper echelons of professional golf, Havret not only survived the intimidating experience of being paired with Woods in the last round of a major, he beat the world number one by three strokes to finish second overall behind Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.
"My first time with Tiger," he told reporters. "It's quite something."
But the thrill of beating Woods in a cauldron-like atmosphere with galleries willing on the American was tempered by the realisation that he had come agonisingly close to pulling off the biggest coup of his career, holing out just one stroke behind McDowell.
He bogeyed the penultimate hole, a testing par-3 with a tiny green almost impossible to stop the ball on, then missed a long birdie putt on the last that might have forced a playoff.
"Of course I'm a bit disappointed because I've been so close to heaven," said Havret. "But anyway it's just great for me to be here."
Ranked 391st in the world before the tournament, Havret was lucky to be at Pebble Beach after needing to sink a 50-foot putt on the last hole of a qualifying event but he thrived on the picturesque but notoriously difficult Californian layout.
Havret had made a name for himself when he beat Phil Mickelson in a playoff to win the 2007 Scottish Open but his career had gone into freefall since and he now hopes the U.S. Open will mark a turnaound in his fortunes.
"You know how golf can be. You know how life can be," he said.
"I'm not looking for excuses but I lost confidence a bit and I needed a week like this week at the Open for me to believe in myself a little bit more than I do."
While many of the world's top players bombed out on the course, Havret maintained his composure as the big names around him faltered.
He started the final day tied for fourth, six shots behind overnight leader Dustin Johnson, but steadily climbed the leaderboard.
The Frenchman overtook Woods on the very first hole when he made birdie and the American three-putted for bogey then reeled in Johnson, whose big-hitting game fell apart, then Ernie Els, who charged made an early charge before falling away late.
Only McDowell managed to stay ahead of Havret, who was appearing in only his fourth major championship and had only made the cut once before, at the British Open in 2008.
"I've been working very hard for 20 years now to be able to live this kind of moment," he said.
Havret said playing with Woods had inspired him, though he had no doubt as to who the huge galleries were there to see and when they reached the first green, the scorers had mistakenly forgotten to include his name on the leaderboard.
"Yeah, I saw that," he said. "It was a little bit of a surprise, but these kind of things can happen. I don't take it badly, of course."
First Published: Jun 21, 2010 11:20 IST