The first Frenchman to earn a PGA Tour card, Thomas Levet was one hole away from becoming the second golfer from his country to lift the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 2002.
Part of the Championship’s first four-way play-off, in no small part due to a 45-foot eagle putt on the 17th, Levet held a one-shot lead over Ernie Els ahead of the fourth and final hole of the play-off – but bogeyed it to force sudden death.
Another bogey allowed the South African to triumph and led to an iconic image, the gracious Levet lifting Els aloft on the green and declaring: “He’s not that heavy, actually.”
An exuberant character on the circuit, Levet had celebrated his Victor Chandler British Masters victory the previous year by running around the 17th green high-fiving spectators.
Before that event, he had found a shamrock with ‘the luck of the Irish’ written on it and kept it in his bag – it stayed there as a good omen going into Muirfield and so nearly paid off.
Levet’s T2 would be his best finish in a major, though he tied for fifth at Royal Troon two years later.