Golf: Levet looking to call shots in Spanish title defence

THOMAS LEVET had to be content with a commentating rather than playing role at The Masters again earlier this month but, if it has the same spin-off effect as 12 months ago, he will not be complaining.

The Frenchman won the Spanish Open on his return from Augusta last year and today was set to begin the defence of his title at the Jose Maria Olazabal-designed Real Club in Seville.

Working in a television studio at the opening major of the season left the 41-year-old with back trouble last time but he learned a valuable lesson studying Tiger Woods then and the way Phil Mickelson repeatedly got out of trouble to triumph three weeks ago hammered home the point.

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"Even the guy who wins makes mistakes and, for me, the lesson is it makes me less nervous when I am playing badly," he said. "It opens your eyes on the game and makes you more conscious of what you need to do to win.

"Sometimes we try too hard, but you don't have to play perfectly and when you commentate you see that."

Levet's playing partners in the opening two rounds this week were both at Augusta.

Big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros missed the halfway cut for the second successive year, but Italian Francesco Molinari, whose only previous trip there was to caddie for his brother Edoardo, finished 30th.

Both are among the players being watched by Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie as the race for places in his team returns to European soil.

Molinari is currently in the ninth and last automatic spot, while Montgomerie is known to be a huge fan of Quiros.

Both know, however, that they probably need to earn places on points rather than rely on one of the three wild cards the Scot has to hand out at the end of August.

As things stand, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson would be favourites for them, followed by Ross Fisher, Robert Karlsson and Miguel Angel Jimenez.