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March 6, 2003

Thomas Levet


JOHN BUSH: We will go ahead and get started. I would like to welcome Thomas Levet into the interview room 6-under, par 66. Congratulations on a good start.

THOMAS LEVET: Thank you. It was a good day. I played really solid all day. I made one or two saves what was crucial for the game, it was good.

Q. How was the weather out there this afternoon, was it windy?

THOMAS LEVET: It was windy. When you come from Europe, it's not windy; it's like a normal day. The wind is not that strong, you know, it's like -- it was nice, the greens were not as hard as you can think as well. So it made it easier than people could think.

JOHN BUSH: Bogey-free 66. Can you take us through your round, starting on No. 1.

THOMAS LEVET: Yes, No. 1 I hit a good drive, middle of the fairway, 4-iron to the green. Chipped it to 10 inches or so.

Then on No. 5 I made birdie --No. 8 is the par -- I remember No. 5 later. No. 8 I had a good drive and I had like 229 left to the front, hit a 3-wood short of the green and chipped it to like 7, 8 foot and made the putt.

On No. 10 I had a long drive, a 3-iron just pin-high in the rough; then I chipped it with a 3-wood to, let's say, four foot, maybe three foot, four foot. And then the par-3, 15, is that correct, I hit a 6-iron to two and a half, three foot, made it.

And then on 17 I hit a good drive and then a little 8-iron to 10, 11 foot and made it.

No. 5, I don't remember it.

Q. Did you lay up off the tee?

THOMAS LEVET: I don't remember how I played this hole. One is the par-5, 2 is the long par-3 -- on 5 I hit 3-wood and then I hit -- I think it was an 8-iron into like 9 foot, 10 foot and made the putt.

JOHN BUSH: Questions.

Q. How much hotter is it than you are used to playing?

THOMAS LEVET: When we play Europe we play in these conditions like in Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, it's about the same as it is here today. But the French guys, the froggies, they don't last much in the sun. We have to be careful with that. It was warm. I'm careful, you know, when it's not my turn to play to be in the shadows of the trees, otherwise I can go pretty bad with the sun, it was warm enough. You got to drink a lot, that's all.

Q. Are you going to play enough tournaments on the PGA TOUR to keep your card?

THOMAS LEVET: Yes. This year I scheduled anything between 23 and 28 tournaments depending if I got enough to make my card or not. I got a pretty busy schedule. I'm exempt for the Masters and British Open as well. It makes me count two tournaments on each side, so it's not that bad. I will probably play 34, 35 this year. It's a lot for me, but it's only like 5 more than last year.

Q. That's the benefit of having done so well at the British Open?

THOMAS LEVET: Yes. But I did okay in the two other majors I played in as well. I made the cut in both and finished 18th for the U.S. Open. If I just had only the British Open I wouldn't have enough to get on the TOUR. So I had to play a little bit as well to make it here.

Q. We saw what winning the British Open has done for Ernie's career. What has it done for your career?

THOMAS LEVET: For me it was nice, it was nice. I mean, to come here and play with guys like I used to watch on TV, you know, (inaudible) I remember playing in the British Open a few years ago, I was kid when I was watching that, it's enjoyable, I saw Jack Nicklaus in the locker room. You know when you turn pro and you are a little kid you don't remember. You don't imagine -- in your biggest dreams you don't imagine that you are going to meet these guys and so hello to them in the locker rooms as a player. I would imagine doing it like a locker attendant but not like a player.

Q. Thomas, when you were at the British Open you seemed quite happy. Was it a disappointment not to take the first step?

THOMAS LEVET: You know, I'm coming from a pretty modest family and it's never my way of thinking, you know, to say yes, I destroyed the British Open, I lost it or something. I'm always kind of, yeah for a guy like you, being second in the British Open is like a dream, really. Like I said, it's like seeing Jack Nicklaus in the locker room. I just look, hello. Is he going to say hello again or respond to that? It's like -- finishing second in the British Open is like the top of the career probably. It's like it shows me that I can play there. I can go there. The thing is that, like I said before in Europe to some guys, Ivanisevic, it's the same case, I got the good Thomas that was playing today, and I got the bad Thomas saying you are a shit, you are a bad player, you are going to hit it in trouble all the time. Sometimes I find the center and that's where I am off the golf course. But the thing is that bad, you know, Thomas behind, has been going on and off and on and off and when the good one is there I can compete in British Open. When the bad one is there I can't even make one little putt from six inches. It's a fight against myself, it's was pretty pleasant. I was so happy to be part of that show. Because for me the sport is like you have to win, but you have to -- if you can compete and being good enough for victory, you are almost there. You are part of the show as well. It's not that I lost I'm going to cry. I was happy for Ernie, he won it well. I think he should have won it a lot earlier than that, you know. He made me miss my flight is all.

Q. Do you ever though look back and think if I would have done this I could have won, do you ever second-guess anything?

THOMAS LEVET: I give it 300,000 percent at the British Open. I gave it all I had. The thing is that, yes, it was if. I hit a 2-iron on No. 17 the way I hit it today on No. 4, like 8 foot from the hole, yes, it's finished, thank you, it's my tournament. But with if, if, if, I would have done 36 on the course today, drive a 4-iron on the hole in No. 1. If I had a drive wedge on the hole on No. 2, that's 5 under. So with if, it's always easy to say after you played. But, of course, there are shots that I make during that week but everybody did. I think it's a game. You have to accept it. It's like, of course, I was unlucky once or twice. Probably the most unlucky shot I had that people didn't realize was the last shot on 18 when we played the playoff the first time because I mean the bank is only this big and I hit just the bank and stayed against it so I couldn't get to the pin. If it's like 5 yards shorter or a yard shorter or a yard longer, I'm playable in the bunker and I can get up to the pin. And if it's a yard longer I'm on the green and I 2 putt and win. But if, if, if, I would have won how many majors I would have won, like 60 already. So you know, I was happy there. It was fun.

Q. Did you ever talk to Jean (Van de Velde)?

THOMAS LEVET: I left a message a few times, with the time difference, he has bigger problems on his knees. He had an operation in October and he will be back in like two months time. He has, how you can say, like problems with his wife, you know, they might split up and divorcing, it's not much fun for him. We have a nephew in common, my wife's sister was married to John's brother. The families are not close but we know each other very well. He is doing okay and trying to comeback in a month and a half, two months. So I hope he will be able to do well. He can do well. He can play well.

Q. Jean caught a lot of second-guessing over his shot at 18 at Carnoustie, have you caughten anything similar for pulling driver twice on 18 at Muirfield?

THOMAS LEVET: A little bit, a little bit. Like I said, in the bag I had that week my driver was probably the straightest club I had in the bag that week. It was like a toothpick, like this straight. I mean it was unreal. And the yardages we had on 18 from the tee, the longest I had was a really open 2-iron, I don't think I could get to the fairway. I was like five yards short of the fairway so you don't want to play your second shot from 250 and the bushes that we had. And the other club I had was like a strong 3-wood and it was getting in every bunker on that hole. So with my caddy, because I had that setup in the bag -- if I had like my normal 3-wood I would have probably played a 3-wood off the tee but that one was putting every bunker under play so we decided from the week and I played it from day one until it was like day -- like the 6th -- how many times did we play it, six times? Until the last time we decided to keep to the plan. It's not because you play against somebody that you are going to have to play a different way. Of course, if I had been in the lead by, let's say, two shots I probably would have hit 3-wood off the tee and make sure I keep it a bit more in play. But who knows, maybe I would have topped it in the middle being so nervous or maybe sliced it in the other bunker or what else. When you make a bad swing it happens with every club in the bag. I could have pulled a 3-iron in the big rough and everybody would have said, awe, why did he hit a 3-iron. So why not. So it was the way I played it. And I have to say the first time that we played in the playoff is probably the only drive I hit all week left. Where on that hole long and right, the rough was playable. I hit -- I think I remember I hit a 7-iron and 5-iron from that rough on the right so that wasn't too bad, you know.

Q. Thomas, does it's disturb you that so many Americans seem to be angry towards France over its Iraq policy?

THOMAS LEVET: I think it's normal because your president is trying to get to war with Iraq to stop them from nuclear weapons and all of that and the French President has a different opinion, so I'm not in between saying hey, guys, I'm only a sportsman, I try to do my job and they are trying to do theirs and it's never easy being a president anyway. So I never like to see war, but if it's dangerous, why not. It's politics. It's not sport.

Q. Have you had many American people talk to you about it?

THOMAS LEVET: Yes, we try to talk, but I try to stay peaceful. My opinion is that they are doing sports. It's not because you're French or German or American, or Iraqi that you have to decide for your country. It's like, you know, if somebody is doing something bad maybe somebody should say, look, you did something bad, you have to stop it or we do something. This may be the only way with the Iraqis or maybe there is other ways that some people will think. I think there are so many things that we don't know about and that these guys know and don't want to say because it's like security reasons that, you know, it's always big problems you know.

Q. Has anybody said anything on the course to you about it?

THOMAS LEVET: No, spectators are fine. That's what I like in America. I went two weeks ago to Los Angeles Lakers game and people in America, when they are going to the game they are going to see the game. They're not going there to annoy people like it could happen in Europe. It could happen in some countries. In my country, in France, when people are going to watch football, for example, sometimes they are just going there to show signs of, let's say, a strike or whatever, airline, you know, or don't go there, or don't do that, you know, and they are going there to fight for politicking reasons. That's what I like in America. People are going to the game because they want to see sport and they want to see a good show and that was really a good crowd so far.

Q. You had mentioned Augusta earlier from a foreign viewpoint, what is your take of what is going on up there?

THOMAS LEVET: Good question, you know. Ask Tiger about it. What can I say? It's like a club, a private club, basically you can do what you want in it, right? If they want to do it that way that's their problem. Some people would say why not me and why not, you know -- let's say why I can join the LPGA Tour then, you know. It's because he is not allowed you have to be a woman to join the LPGA TOUR. So it's sort of the same rules. It's the other way, that's all. Of course some people are not happy, but I think if you have a private club, it's called private, so you can do what you want. If it was a public club Augusta, then they would have to accept all of the people. But are there no clubs only for women here in America.

Q. There is a couple.

THOMAS LEVET: Yes so, you know, I think it's because it's so famous that it causes controversial problems, that's all.

Q. Do you think non-Americans think it's sort of silly?

THOMAS LEVET: Excuse me?

Q. Do you think non-Americans see all of the --

THOMAS LEVET: What is silly? What is it?

Q. Stupid.

THOMAS LEVET: You know, a good looking woman, they don't hurt in the club, so why not accept them, you know (Laughter), so I don't know. It sounds a bit strange from non-British people. Because in France, for example, it's not allowed to have a private club. If a member is whatever, woman, any religion, any color is accepted in a private club.

JOHN BUSH: Anymore questions? Thomas, thanks for coming by. Have a good week.

THOMAS LEVET: I hope to see you Sunday, really late.

End of FastScripts....

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