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June 21 2010

4:07 AM

Havret: Surprise and disappointment

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.

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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

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