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Havret Shows His Strength of Character in Heidelberg
Gregory Havret of France showed his strength of character by blocking out the pain of a triple bogey seven at the close of his second round, bouncing back briskly with a third round of 68 to move into a two shot lead in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe at St Leon-Rot near Heidelberg.

The 27 year old Parisien leads by two from Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Trevor Immelman of South Africa on a 54 hole total of 204, 12 under par, with another Irishman, Darren Clarke, and Swede Joakim Haeggman, a further stroke behind on 207.

On Friday night, Havret reached the 18th hole tied for the lead with Germany’s Alex Cejka – who slipped back in the third round with a 76 – and promptly walked off the green with a triple bogey and a tie for second place.

Such a slip might have caused mental meltdown to a lesser player, but Havret showed he is made of sterner stuff, picking up six birdies and an eagle in an adventurous round of 68 in which his first par figure arrived at the seventh hole.

“I slept all right. No problems” smiled Havret, at the mention of his error 24 hours earlier. Where others might have woke up in a cold sweat, the 2001 Italian Open champion was perfectly relaxed and in charge of his faculties.

“I was disappointed, of course, with that triple bogey but as I said at the time – that’s golf. Overall I had a good day and I’m quite happy. I tried to take it shot by shot. I did some good things and I did some bad things but I just tried to keep going.

“It’s probably going to be one of the biggest days of my golfing life tomorrow but I am going to do my best. I’m two shots clear of Padraig and Trevor and that’s nothing over this course. You can see that with Cejka’s score. He was three clear and now he’s five behind.”

Defending champion Harrington closed the gap on Havret with a second successive 68 in difficult conditions, and has a strong chance of adding to his eight titles on The European Tour International Schedule.

After an uneventful front nine, the 32 year old Dubliner caught fire, with a 15 footer for a birdie on the tenth before chipping in from 70 feet for an eagle at the 12th. At the next he hit a five iron ‘stone dead’ and his challenge had been ignited with a vengeance.

Meanwhile his playing partner, Immelman, one of a trio of first round leaders, caught the mood and picked up four birdies in his round of 69, with a swinging ten footer at the last disappearing after a couple of laps of the cup to salvage a good par.

Harrington, who bogeyed the 17th after a careless drive and missed from six feet for a birdie at the last, felt he ought to have applied more pressure on Havret. He said: “I feel that shots are hard to come by on Sunday and I don’t like to give them away easily on Saturday.

“I fell asleep over the tee shot on the 17th by losing concentration. Obviously the putt at the last would have saved the day…but, no, it didn’t! I am not even thinking about tomorrow right now. I am thinking about my lunch rather than defending this title.”

Immelman chimed in; “The course has really shown its teeth after the first day. You’ve got a British Open feel with the wind and the cold and a US Open feel with the greens and the rough. You are just trying to hang in there.”

Clarke’s challenge was inspired by an eagle at the 12th and a further birdie at the 14th while Haeggman, the Qatar Masters champion, reached the turn in 36 and set sail for home with three successive birdies and three more at the 14th, 16th and 17th for an inward 30 and round of 66.

“Obviously I’ve given myself an opportunity” he said. “I played really nicely on the back side and managed to hole a few putts which made all the difference. It’s been a decent season so far – better than the previous one when I was walking around on crutches with a broken leg.”

Courtesy of www.europeantour.com  

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