Frenchman Defends at British Masters


The European Tour travels from Surrey, England to Milton Keynes for the Victor Chandler British Masters, where Frenchman Thomas Levet will try to defend the title he won in a four-man playoff a year ago.
Levet, whose only previous victory on tour came in the 1998 Cannes Open, shot 3-under 69 on the Marquess Course to finish regulation at 14-under-par 274.
Levet, Swedes Mathias Gronberg and Robert Karlsson and Englands David Howell went back to the 18th tee to commence the biggest playoff on the tour since the 1993 Honda Open.
Howell and Karlsson dropped out on the first extra hole with a pair of bogeys. Levet could have ended the playoff then and there, but missed a four-footer for birdie. He atoned, however, the next time around on 18 when he holed a five-foot par putt to stay alive.
The third extra session took place at the 176-yard, par-3 17th. Gronberg left his 12-foot birdie putt short of the hole, and then had to watch as Levet ended the suspense with a 10-footer. He celebrated by running around the entire circumference of the green, high-fiving the gallery.
Yes, magnifique is the word, Levet said following victory. It is unbelievable to win in such a big tournament. Ive won many times in France but every time outside France I seem to finish second or whatever, so this is unbelievable.
Only two players have successfully defended their titles since this tournament was first played in 1946. Bernard Gallacher won in 1974 and 75. Greg Norman won back-to-back in 1981 and 82. Both players managed to win on two separate courses.
Levet wont have such a challenge, as for the fourth straight year the event will be contested at the Woburn Golf and Country Club. Woburn also played host from 1985-1994, and in 1979 and 81.
The list of past champions is immaculate: Bobby Locke (1954), Peter Thomson (1961, 68), Tony Jacklin (1967, 73), Bernhard Langer (1980), Ian Woosnam (1983, 94), Lee Trevino (1985), Seve Ballesteros (1986, 91), Nick Faldo (1989) and Colin Montgomerie (1998).
Full field and tee times for the Victor Chandler British Masters