In 2008, just after his victory in Andalusia, Thomas Levet competed in the Portuguese Open. The JDG was present for a photo shoot with the Parisian. Nugget.
“In terms of emotions, how do you place this victory at the Andalusian Open?
It was the one I went for the farthest, the one that forced me to work the most because I was two points behind with three holes to play and I was far from being the favorite. But I knew I had a little chance because the finish was very hard and my opponent Oliver Fisher lacked experience. I was a hunter until the end while in the other tournaments from which I came out the winner, I was always in the lead three holes from the end.
During the play-off, did you have the advantage of experience?
I was already on the circuit before Oliver was born! He was born on September 13, 1988 and I went pro a week later! I was leaving, it is true, with a small advantage because he had just been joined and that I played play-offs larger tournaments than that. After that, we are two golfers and in this sport, you don’t always control your destiny.
When did you know it was won?
At the end of the first hole, when he didn’t put the chip to make 4 and I had two putts within three meters to win. I told myself that I had to focus on these two putts, especially on the first line, I had to pay attention to the slope. As I putted well all week, I was very calm. The 10 cm putt for the victory was not the most difficult of my career, it was nice! But I did not savor this victory like that of the British Masters, in 2001, where I had investigated six meters to win. There, it was a more diffuse feeling, it’s been two minutes already that I thought about it, I just had to push my two putts. But hey, I’m pretty proud of myself, the way it happened.
When you were injured for a long time, did you ever think that your career was over?
No. And anyway there is something other than golf in life. The important thing is to be happy and do what you like and I have a lot of things that I like. Now, it’s true that it would have bothered me to have to stop definitively because I was certain that I could still improve myself. When I got sick in 2006, I knew that I had acquired a good bottom of play. If I returned and if I have a morale of hell, it is that I never gave up the thing . I was at the worst 900th in the world. I am today 130th. If I continue, I can find myself in the top 50 in the world quickly.
Do you think of Jean Garaialde’s record for six European victories?
I don’t think about it but it would be nice to get there! For me the real records are the 18 major titles of Nicklaus or the 82 victories of Sam Snead on the American circuit. These are sick things. French records are good, but that is not my primary objective. What I’m looking for is to go as far as possible. We’ll see after. In any case, I will send a quick note to Jean, for whom I have always had a lot of respect, when we are tied!
“The important thing is to be happy and do what you like”
Have you had a click in putting, in Andalusia?
Already, I have brought in three chips, this does not happen all the time. Three chips in the box, that’s between three and six putts less! But it’s true that I felt good in Spain. Hope it lasts ! I have worked a lot lately to change the way I prepare my putts. I put myself in place more quickly in front of my putts from now on, I started on complicated methods, a little too long to set up at the time of the execution of the move.
Is putting a French weakness?
When you live in France, there is already a big problem, it is that from October, it is difficult to find greens which are as fast as those of the European Tour. With us, the greens are prepared for amateurs, for people who are there to have fun, not for pros. So there are two solutions: training on a synthetic green in the garage, but this type of alternative has its limits because the turnover is not natural, or going abroad. One of the reasons that led me to stay in Florida is that the training conditions there are perfect. When I arrived in Abu Dhabi this year, I had played faster greens the week before, so I had no apprehension on the greens.
Thomas Levet at the French Open which he won in 2011 (L’Équipe)
Is the Open de France one of your objectives?
I would like to perform better there in the future than in the past. But it’s always a difficult week for me to negotiate: between my sponsors, my friends and the press, I am very busy. I try to please everyone but it is not obvious. On the other hand, I don’t want to take refuge in my bubble to try to win the French Open. And then the National, it’s a course that I like but I can’t read the greens!
Do you train on your own?
Yes. I design my training plan on my own, both technically and physically, and from time to time I ask some advice from specialists. With my twenty years of experience, I’m starting to know what suits me! I also have a lot of tapes of my swing that I watch often. So I know where I have to go. You know, when you win a tournament, there are things that don’t work. I did not like my footwork in Andalusia. However, when I saw a few images of the tournament on TV, I saw that my climb was more interior. I was happy, that’s what I’m working on right now.
Any advice for young people who want to go pro?
Work, work and still work! Anyone can do it, I am the proof! Everyone is equal at the start, it’s the amount of work that makes the difference. You have to constantly look in the mirror to spot your weaknesses and improve what is wrong to become a better player. And then, you have to be careful what you say in the clubs, not to get hungry. An amateur who is +2 and who regularly plays under par in his club, on the Tour, he will most often shoot 85 because the courses which receive a test of the circuit are much better prepared than those which host a Grand Prix. And then on the Tour, 150 guys can fight one or two, it makes a difference. As long as you don’t compete with a pro on the circuit regularly, you have no place in the professional ranks. “