2004: PGA European Tour - Levet has day at Loch Lomond

Luss, Scotland

French golf continued to reach new heights with Thomas Levet’s victory at the $4 million Barclays Scottish Open.

Levet picked up the first-place check of 545,209 euros with a final round of 8-under-par 63 for a 72-hole total of 15-under 269, giving him a one-shot victory over New Zealand’s Michael Campbell. England’s David Howell and defending champion Ernie Els tied for third at 13 under.

Levet’s triumph at Loch Lomond was the fourth by a Frenchman on this year’s PGA European Tour, and the third in a month. Levet follows victories by compatriots Christian Cevaer (Spanish Open), Philippe Lima (Aa St. Omer Open) and Jean-Francois Remesy (French Open).

It was Levet’s third European Tour title, following the 1998 Cannes Open and the 2001 British Masters. The winner’s check is the biggest of his career and moved him to third on the Order of Merit.

The cheerful Frenchman had double cause for celebration. He also booked a place in this week’s British Open at Royal Troon as the top player not otherwise exempt.

The 35-year-old came close to British Open glory in 2002 when he lost in a playoff to Els at Muirfield.

“Getting into the Open is probably the most exciting thing,” said Levet. “A win is a win, but playing in the Open is something else. What I did two years ago is still in the back of my mind.”

The ebullient Parisian was a surprise contender. In his previous three tournaments, he had missed the cut at the U.S. Open, tied for 34th at the French Open and missed the cut at the Smurfit European Open. He arrived at Loch Lomond complaining of exhaustion.

“This is unbelievable,” he said. “The last two weeks have been awful for me. I was ready to pack my bags and go home. Thomas Bjorn talks about having demons in his head; well, I’ve got spiders in mine. I’ve gone from zero confidence to (realizing) I can play this game.”

Levet overturned a seven-shot deficit heading into the final round to take the title. He sealed the victory with a blistering back nine. Out in 2-under-par 34, the Frenchman then made four birdies and an eagle in a back-nine 29.

“I’ve shot 29 before on Tour but under these circumstances I’ve never played as well,” said Levet, whose 63 matched the low round of the week and was one shot off the tournament record set by Retief Goosen in 1997.

At least seven players had a chance to win the tournament in a tense final round. At one point, Levet was one of five players tied for the lead at 14 under.

Campbell missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie Levet.

“I couldn’t believe the putt at the last,” Campbell said. “I read it dead straight and it broke a hole right to left.”

Howell made successive bogeys at the 13th and 14th holes when pars would have put him in playoff.

“I hit a bad tee shot on the 13th and then made a wrong decision on the 14th,” he said. “Just two shots cost me. It wasn’t my turn this week, but maybe it will be soon.”

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