The Lesson of 02 Weighs Heavily on Levet

By George WhiteJuly 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
Perhaps if were lucky, well see a certain Frenchman in contention come Sunday, just as he was on a July Sunday in 2002. That was the year that Thomas Levet led in a four-way playoff for the British Open, mucked it all up to eventually lose to Ernie Els, then delightfully entertained us afterwards with his running commentary.
 
You remember it all, dont you? Levet birdied the second hole of the four-hole playoff to take the lead early over Els, Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington. He parred the third hole, but he threw all caution to the wind at the fourth. Remind you of another Frenchman by the name of Van de Velde?
 
He started his misadventure by using a driver off the 18th tee at Muirfield when almost everyone else was using 3-wood. Predictably, he lined it into trouble on the right. From there he found a bunker 30 yards short of the green. He blasted his third shot to the front edge, hit a chip shot 60 feet past the flag, and holed the long putt for bogey.
 
Els made par and the two headed back to 18 for sudden death, as Appleby and Elkington were discarded, both finishing the four-hole cumulative playoff one behind. Levet again hit driver -- Els hit an iron and found the fairway -- and pulled his tee shot into a pot bunker.
 
Levet again made bogey; Els made par.
 
Just like Van de Velde, though, Levet was the perfect gentleman afterwards, answering every question with a humorous, self-deprecating touch. Its been a massive learning experience, Levet said at the time. It makes major golf easier if you can compete at the highest level. Im halfway there.
 
Levet then spent a rocky year playing in America in 2003, meeting hostile galleries in several cities because of the political differences of France and the U.S. But he returned to Europe this year and last week won the Scottish Open.
 
He opened with a 66 in the British Open Thursday, but he hasnt forgotten 2002. Far from it.
 
Sometimes you feel like I was not too far from winning, he says. But sometimes you learn from that, as well. And I took it on that side.
 
I said, Look, it's the first time I was in a major in contention. It's the first time I was about to win something and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
 
'And I took it on the normal side. He (Els) won because he was the best, and that's what sports is all about, and golf as well.
 
Levet has been playing the European Tour for a long time, since 1991. The son of a doctor, he would have to classify his prior career as only that of a journeyman. But maybe he learned something from that Muirfield Open.
 
Sometimes you feel, yes, of course, I was second in The Open, Levet said. But when I started the tournament, and even this week, it just - after 50 second places, maybe you would be a bit mad. But after one second place, life is going on and just try to enjoy the game and take experience from that instead of crying in your locker saying, Oh, I lost The Open, I lost The Open.
 
Otherwise I wouldn't be here today. I would have retired probably three weeks later.
 
Levet, correctly, looks at his 66 as merely a step on the ladder to the championship, and not the whole ladder. But he learned something from that playoff in 2002, and the prospects look very rosy, even if its only the first day.
 
It's way too early, he said, waving off early speculation of what Levet would look like holding the claret jug.
 
Today there was not even pressure about that. Seeing your name on the top of the leaderboard is a pleasure, but there is a long way to go and you have a few guys that could win the tournament, but we're in the lead. It means we have a few strokes in our pocket in case things are turning wrong.
 
But it's just one step, and there is still one big step tomorrow, two big steps Saturday, and an enormous marathon on Sunday. We've done three steps of the marathon, it's nothing.
 
And if it does come to Sunday playoff, you can bet he wont use driver when the proper play is 3-wood.
 
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Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.