He wasn't supposed to be there at the end.
He was the one who everyone thought would fade away. They saw 391st in the world.
Gregory Havret saw Pebble Beach. And his chance.
On a day when three of the biggest names in the games struggled, the 33-year-old Frenchman came within a shot of winning the U.S. Open. He threw out a closing 72 to finish second to winner Graeme McDowell. And his 1-over par final 18 just happened to be the lowest final round of the top five players.
"Well, my feeling right now is it's probably the best surprise for me,'' Havret said. "So I'm very happy. But it's also the biggest disappointment. It doesn't mean I would have won because maybe a playoff and then see what happens.''
He had the chance. Playing in just his fourth major -- he missed two cuts and tied for 19th at the 2008 British Open -- he trailed McDowell by a shot for the last four holes. He bogeyed the 17th to fall two back, but McDowell bogeyed the same hole a few minutes later. So Havret went into 18 with a chance at that playoff.
He was competing. For a major.
"Just before 17, 16 I was really playing fine and I had some opportunities and then nearly holed that long putt on 16, that shot on 17 was a little bit too much right, but down the middle of the club and it's a shame I didn't make that one up and down,'' he said. " It's a shame I didn't get up‑and‑down on the last.''
A little disappointing, too.
"I'm obviously very happy,'' he said. "I need probably a couple of hours to ‑‑ don't know the word in English-- but to get over it. Absolutely. And, yeah, I'll be very, yeah, I'll have a great night and some fantastic memories.''
Like playing the final round with Tiger Woods. And closing with a 72 to his 75. And beating both Woods and Mickelson by two shots; Ernie Els by one. So no, he wasn't intimidated.
"The job is the same,'' he said. "I mean it's, the golf course ‑‑ of course it's something different. You got the crowds so much for him, and everybody screaming his name all the way around during four and a half hours. My ears were, you know, repentful, but it's great. It's great.
"I look to see that in France and see these emotions, and it's not really the way we do it. It's more British type, you know. It's a bit more quiet. Which is nice too, but it's always fun for us to come over here and see this crowd, and that's the big difference. Otherwise it's been very nice. We talked a bit and he's a great player. He didn't play good today, I was very glad to play with him to have the experience, and it will make me stronger, I hope.''
He jumped to 177th the in world rankings -- that's 214 places -- thanks to that second place.
And, just so you know, he's proud to have a European winner. Prouder still that he predicted it. After all, they play a lot of links golf in Europe and they're used to the cold, windy weather, too.
"On the beginning of the week my French guys, journalist, French guys, they asked me, who do you think is going to win, and I said it's going to be a European guy,'' he said. ". . . I mean, we have this pretty much quite often, so, yeah, I mean, so yeah I'm very happy for Graeme, it breaks 40 years of hopes for Europeans, I came second, I'm quite happy to, so it's very exciting.'' -- Melanie Hauser
Only one Frenchman had ever won a major championship -- Arnaud Massy at the 1907 British Open -- and it looks like that won’t change with Gregory Havret making a par on the last hole.
Needing to make a birdie from just inside 10 feet to pull even with leader Graeme McDowell, Havret badly pulled his putt, which never came close to touching the hole. He finished with a 1-over 72.
Meanwhile, Havret’s playing partner, Tiger Woods, also missed a birdie putt at the last. Woods began the day in contention but quickly shot himself out of it with four bogeys in his first eight holes. He ended the day hitting just half his greens and coming up short on his birdie putt for a 4-over 75 to finish the week at 3 over. -- Brian Wacker
After finding the bunker at the par-3 17th, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell failed to get up-and-down for par. With the bogey, he's now at even par for the tournament, one shot ahead of France's Gregory Havret, who found the greenside bunker with his second shot at the par-5 18th.
It appears the 40-year European drought in the U.S. Open is about to end -- either today or in a playoff on Monday.
If Gregory Havret is going to win the U.S. Open, it’s likely going to take a mistake by Graeme McDowell. That’s because Havret wasn’t able to save par on the par-3 17th; the bogey dropped him two back of McDowell with two holes left for the leader.
Graeme McDowell will take at least a one-shot lead into the most difficult hole on the course this week, the par-3 17th -- the hole that has been the source of so much drama at previous U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach.
McDowell is at 1 under, one stroke ahead of Gregory Havret, whose tee shot at the 17th found the bunker. At this point, it's a two-man race.
UPDATE: Make that a two-shot lead for McDowell. Havret just bogeyed the 17th -- his first bogey on the back nine.
If there was someone from the Tiger Woods-Gregory Havret pairing that was going to make a move on the lead Sunday, most might have expected it to be Woods. It’s been the Frenchman Havret, however, who has played incredibly steady throughout the round. Yes, Havret has two bogeys, but he also had two early birdies. He’s also made five straight pars and he’s now just one back after starting the day six back.
Havret, of course, is only at Pebble Beach after surviving a playoff at a U.S. Open sectional qualifier to get into the field. You don’t have to go back very far to find the last sectional qualifier to win a U.S. Open -- Lucas Glover did it last year. The last local and sectional qualifier to win, however, was Orville Moody. -- Brian Wacker
It hasn't exactly been a banner year for Frenchman Gregory Havret on the European Tour this year, but he has to like his position through three rounds at Pebble Beach.
Thanks to a 2-under 69, Havret is even par for the tournament, and will play in one of the final groups in Sunday's final round. He's currently tied for fourth, five shots behind leader Graeme McDowell.
Havret, playing in his first U.S. Open, posted birdies at hole Nos. 5 and 6 on Saturday, then played even par the rest of the way with two more birdies and two bogeys.
Havret has just one top-10 finish in 13 starts in Europe this year, and has missed six cuts.
Gregory Havret is relatively new to the world stage. This is just his fourth major – and his first since 2008.
The Frenchman missed the cut in his first two majors, but he did tie for 18th at the 2008 British Open. His finish could have been higher, too, had it not been for a third-round 77.
Havret has played in three World Golf Championships events, with a career-best tie for 15th at the 2008 CA Championship. The three majors and three World Golf Championships are his only PGA TOUR starts.