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Cannes Open
Royal Mougins
Cannes, France
16th - 19th April 1998

Par 71 Prize Money 300,000

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Levet overcomes final hole nightmare to triumph in Cannes

Cannes, 19th April 1998 - Frenchman Thomas Levet overcame a "nightmare" at the last hole to complete the biggest golfing shock of the year as he won the Cannes Open with a six-under-par aggregate of 278.

Levet, who shot a closing 73 in a swirling wind, does not currently hold a European Tour card having failed to regain it at the qualifying school last November.

He only got into the tournament through a special exemption handed him by the French Golf Federation and was given no chance of victory before the event began.

Yet having started the last day four shots clear of the field he held his nerve to become the first French player to triumph in such an important tournament in his own country since Jean Garalaide won the French Open in 1969 when Levet was less than a year old.

But what a finish it proved. Welshman Phillip Price, New Zealand's Greg Turner and Sven Struver of Germany were already in the clubhouse at five under when Levet arrived at the 563-yard 18th hole at seven under needing only a bogey six for victory.

The 29-year-old Frenchman had just birdied both the 15th and 17th with superb putts and his victory looked a formality - but it proved far from that.

He hit a bad drive, put his second shot in a bunker and then, to the horror of the partisan gallery, he failed to get out of the sand first time.

Levet hit his fourth shot on to the green only to be faced with a 50-foot curling putt which he left eight feet short.

But to his great credit he holed his second putt to collect a first prize of 50,000 and gain exemption on the European Tour until the year 2000.

Levet admitted: "That last hole was a bit of a nightmare. When I took two in the bunker it was such a shock I almost laughed. Then I had that last putt and it was just wonderful when it went in."

It must have been a tremendous relief for Levet, who qualified for the US Tour in 1994 but had to return home without success because of an allergy to air conditioning and has been struggling to find any form during the past two years.

Price and Turner were interested spectators at the last-hole drama because had Levet three-putted there would have been a four-man play-off.

Struver, who would also have been in the quartet, did not know it at the time because his score was held up while officials sought a ruling after he had hit overhead cables when driving at the final hole.

He hit a provisional ball with which he got a birdie four to move into joint second place but it took officials more than an hour before the relieved German was told his birdie would stand.

Price was particularly pleased with his day. The 31-year-old Welshman was lying joint 16th when he began his final round but shot a four-under-par 67 to romp through the field and collect a cheque of 22,370.