There’s an old saying in golf that no one ever remembers who comes second - and it's particularly poignant in golf, when the major championships are discussed.
It's a tad unfair because a player has to beat at least 150 world class golfers to get a sniff of the runner-up cheque - and they deserve a share of the limelight, too.
In contrast Rocco Mediate battled Tiger Woods down the stretch in 2009 at Torrey Pines and came up just short after an 18-hole play-off but enjoyed the warm glow of praise from an adoring public as if he’d actually won the event.
Frenchman Gregory Havret, is more the answer to a trivia question by comparison, despite out-playing Tiger Woods in the 2010 US open and missing a short birdie putt which would have got him in a play-off with the eventual winner, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.
But it wasn't the first time Havret had been in contention in a worldwide event. In 2007 he duelled with Phil Mickelson, in the final round of the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond before conquering him in a playoff - the biggest win of his 12-year pro career.
The 34 year old Havret has not been idle in the 11 months since his epic US Open challenge, securing three top 10 finishes in 11 events while improving his 2010 driving accuracy and putting statistics.
On the eve of his return to the US Open as an exempt player at Congressional Country Club in June, Havret spoke to Golfmagic about his chances of a repeat performance. But first he recalled the emotional events surrounding the Open de Espana in Barcelona when the death of golf legend Seve Ballesteros was announced.
In Barcelona, where you tied fifth behind Thomas Aiken, it must have been one of the most emotional tournaments of your career?
Havret: It was really something being there in Spain, seeing Spanish players like Olazabal and Jimenez openly crying at the news as well as other Spanish guys who looked up to Seve as a father figure.
It was a sad thing for Spain, for golf and for all of us. Fifty four years old is too young; it makes you want to enjoy life and your family even more.
Did you know Seve, personally? What did he mean to you?
I got to play with him only once, in the Italian Open in 2002 in the third round. It was fantastic and something I’m quite proud to say I have done. I also got to play in the Seve Trophy in ’07 when he was the captain. He was very friendly, funny and I had a hole in one on the 8th hole right in front of him in one of the matches. He jumped in to my arms and was very happy for me. So, yeah, I got to spend two beautiful moments with him which was very special for me.
You played really well to tie for fifth place in Barcelona. And I see that your putting statistics this year show a marked improvement on 2010, you’re ranked 18th in putts per round compared to 169th in 2010. Is that something you’ve consciously been working on?
I’ve been working over the last four years on my putting and short game. I went to the Dave Pelz Academy in the US last year and since the start of this year, it’s really a lot better. I’m chipping the ball closer too which obviously helps my putting and I’m also driving the ball straighter.
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