Unlikely journey lets Havret shine at Pebble

Gregory Havret of France reacts to a missed birdie putt on the 16th hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 20.

Gregory Havret of France reacts to a missed birdie putt on the 16th hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 20.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Gregory Havret likely isn’t a household name just about anywhere. But that’s bound to change with his performance Sunday at Pebble Beach.

There is an outside chance some may remember his 2007 Scottish Open victory when he beat Phil Mickelson in a playoff. But Havret topped that performance when he nearly beat Graeme McDowell for the Open trophy.

The Frenchman – ranked 391 in the world – had a miracle-laden journey to get here.

Last month, Havret qualified in Surrey, England, in sensational style, holing a 50-footer to get into a playoff and then drained a 20-footer to punch his ticket to Pebble Beach.

Havret, playing in first major, got himself in position on Saturday by shooting 69, which left him tied for fourth with Ernie Els.

He played his final round with top-ranked Tiger Woods and a gallery of thousands. Havret said he wasn’t intimidated.

“The job is the same. I mean it’s the golf course (but) of course it’s something different,” said Havret, bidding to be the first Frenchman to win a major since 1907. “You got the crowds so much for (Woods), and everybody screaming his name . . . I look to see that in France and see these emotions, and it’s not really the way we do it.”

Havret's round began in encouraging fashion. He made birdies on 1 and 6 before recording three bogeys on the final 11 holes, including at the troublesome 17th.

Havret had a chance to catch McDowell with a birdie putt on 18.

“I was expecting maybe a nicer surprise from the sky to make that playoff, but I didn’t make it,” he said.

He told French journalists earlier in the week that he thought an European would win it. McDowell fulfilled his prediction, becoming the first European to win the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin did it in 1970.

Havret said he came in with no expectations. But he did like his chances, considering he loves link courses.

“After ten holes on Thursday, I felt confident and said, ‘Do whatever you can, just fight on everything,’” he said.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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