Ah, the Open Championship. That annual mix that combines triumph and disaster in equal measure and leaves every Sunday morning hacker dreaming that with a little more luck, they’ll soon be matching Dustin Johnson off the tee-box and Jordan Spieth on the greens.
With rough thicker than Love Island’s Sam Gowland, you need skill, bottle and top drawer real-time decision making – if you don’t want to end up blowing a lead like Adam Scott in 2012. And plenty have.
1. Justin Rose, Royal Birkdale, 1998
Let’s start with the good, from those innocent days in July 1998. Another Level were No 1 in the charts with Freak Me, Arsenal had been crowned Premier League champions under French newbie Arsene Wenger and Padraig Harrington was about to go back-to-back in Open Championships at this week’s venue, Royal Birkdale.
Chasing down the Silver medal though was the lesser-known 17-year-old Justin Rose who chipped in from the rough on the 18th green to the delight on the partisan home gallery, to claim fourth spot and finish as leading amateur.
Where it all began! pic.twitter.com/1awJkSIDMm
— Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) July 10, 2017
An MBE, US Open Major, Olympic gold medal and many millions of dollars later, Rose is among the favourites with Paddy Power for this week’s Open Championship and a few more shots like this will help.
Nice guys never win? Don’t bet on it.
2. Sergio Garcia v Padraig Harrington, Carnoustie 2007
The simmering feud between Padraig Harrington and the then Major-less Sergio Garcia first bubbled up at Canoustie in 2007 as the Irishman picked the Spaniard’s pocket to capture the first of his three Major wins.
Garcia had led for the first three days in Scotland and held a three-stroke lead over American Steve Stricker going into the final day and six clear of Paddy H – before disaster struck on Sunday.
Harrington’s victory in a four-hole playoff over the then 27-year-old was the wedge that divided these Ryder Cup ‘team-mates’ for the next 10 years.
Some bad press for Harrington after El Nino won the US Masters last March – a possibly one eye on a future Ryder Cup captaincy – forced the Dubliner to soften his tone.
Best buds now though, allegedly, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either among the eight places Paddy is paying this week on the Open Championship.
3. Jean van de Velde, Carnoustie, 1999
We’ve saved the most infamous until last.
It’s what every club golfer – and probably Lee Westwood – dreams of. You’re three shots clear in the Open Championship with just the 18th to play.
What’s the worst that could happen, right?
Well if you were a French pro called Jean van de Velde round about 1999 – quite a bit as it happens.
JVDV – as he’s probably never been called – teed off at the par 4 18th hole safe in the knowledge that, even if he took six shots (a double bogey), he’d still be crowned Open champion.
But not until David Cameron lost the Brexit referendum 17 years later, had the consequences of a disastrous brain fart on British soil unfolded before the blinking eyes of a worldwide audience.
Despite 20 minutes, seven shots & a paddle in the ‘Barry Burn’ later, the Frenchman’s humiliation was extended even further, as he lost in a four-hole play-off with eventual winner Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard.
Je ne regrette rien? Yeah, right….