x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Leap of joy turns sour for French Open winner Thomas Levet

After winning the title, Frenchman Thomas Levet impulsively jumped into the lake near the 18th hole, breaking his shin. He will now miss the upcoming British Open.

Despite this being one of his best wins, Levet will now be remembered for what he did off the course rather than on it.
Despite this being one of his best wins, Levet will now be remembered for what he did off the course rather than on it.

If Thomas Levet has learnt one thing from the past weekend, it is never again jump into a lake in golfing clothes.

The 43-year-old Frenchman could not hide his delight after a nail-biting, one-shot win over Mark Foster and Thorbjorn Olsen at the French Open, just outside Paris, on Sunday.

So he decided to jump in the water beside the 18th hole. It was his only mistake over four days and it was a big one.

Levet fell awkwardly and broke a bone in his shin — he is out of this week's Scottish Open, which he won in 2004.

And, more importantly, he misses the trip to Royal St George's in Sandwich for the British Open, a tournament in which he has a decent record, finishing second in 2003 and fifth just two years later.

The French Open was one of the best wins of his career, but it will now be remembered for what he did off the course rather than on it when he came back from a three-shot deficit to win his own country's big tournament at Le Golf National where, in 2018, he is favourite to captain the European Ryder Cup team.

"I am extremely disappointed to miss out on the [British] Open, but my specialist has advised me to have an operation on the fracture tomorrow morning," said Levet yesterday.

"I will have screws and a plate inserted which will ensure that my shin recovers completely.

"I will be off for six weeks, which is very bad timing with so many important tournaments coming up.

"However, the wonderful memory of winning my national Open will definitely keep me going through my recovery."

Every golfer has found the water at some time with an errant iron shot, but few could have been as costly as this. Jean van de Velde, a fellow Frenchman and part of the team that won Paris the 2018 Ryder Cup, knows what it is like to see your Open hopes drown.

In 1999 he was famously beaten by Paul Lawrie at golf's oldest tournament when, while only requiring a double bogey six or better at the last hole to win, he hit into a stream at Carnoustie and then took off his socks and shoes to follow his ball.

"I feel so bad for Thomas because he played wonderfully on Sunday, and it was fantastic to see a Frenchman win our biggest tournament," van de Velde said. "But I don't know why he does these things. Thomas is probably the only player who could injure himself by jumping in a lake after a win.

"I never know what he is going to do next, although I thought he might be too old for this sort of stunt."

 

ncameron@thenational.ae