Jump in a lake? There's a reason golf calls them 'hazards'

Jul 12 2011 - 4:10pm

In golf parlance, bodies of water are classified as "hazards."

And, we've come to learn, not only for wayward shots.

For Thomas Levet, a French Open victory leap turned into a British Open withdrawal when doctors told him his broken shin requires surgery to insert screws and a plate.

"However, the wonderful memory of winning my national Open will definitely keep me going through my recovery!" the Frenchman said in giving up his spot this week at Royal St. George's.

Call it a consolation prize.

Hey, Levet had every reason to be giddy at Le Golf National. The 42-year-old pro has been playing his national championship since his teens, only to see guys like Nick Faldo, Retief Goosen and Graeme Storm walk away with the trophy.

Only one other Frenchman, in fact, had won the event since the European Tour's formation in 1972. So when Levet overcame a three-shot deficit on the final day, the occasion demanded something special.

Splash!

Levet surely hadn't considered the aftermath of Stacy Lewis' win at the LPGA's Kraft Nabisco Championship, when her mother tore a leg muscle while accompanying the new major champion on the traditional jump into Poppie's Pond.

"She's still kind of struggling, limping around a bit," Lewis told reporters at the U.S. Women's Open in Colorado. "But it's getting there. I told her if I win again, she's jumping for sure."

By then, she'll know that feet-down isn't proper form for a Poppie's leap. The pond is only 5 1/2 feet at its deepest point, no more than chest-high in the landing area.

But at least if you're going to get hurt, it's better to happen upon winning a major not to knock you out of one.

One wag already has nominated Levet's Leap for what he calls the Frerotte/Gramatica Award --recognizing notable athletic celebrations gone wrong.

Former Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte, you might recall, gave himself whiplash by head-butting a padded wall after a touchdown. A few years later, Cardinals kicker Bill Gramatica tore his ACL when he landed wrong after celebrating a field goal.

You might add Dottie Pepper's 1999 leap at Poppie's, which at that time was still a full-fledged pond and not the sanitized splash pool it's become. She surfaced spitting green who-knows-what and wound up sidelined a month with a bacterial infection.

"I think it's the silliest thing that players have done over the years," said Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 European Ryder Cup captain who happened to be Levet's playing partner Saturday. "I've always been suspect about people diving into lakes (who) don't know how deep it is and what's in there."

To be sure, not all victory splashes go awry. But there's no doubt it's been a bad year for water hijinks.

A side note: Le Golf National recently got the nod to host the 2018 Ryder Cup. And we've seen the giddiness that comes with winning that trophy.

What's French for "Swim at own risk"?

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