Jul 18th, 2019
The Top 10 Weirdest Open Moments
Next stop the Emerald Isle!
There have been many an odd occurence at the oldest of all the majors but these are our pick of the top ten weirdest Open Championship moments.
10) NO TROPHY, NO OPEN
Bizarrely, the 1871 Open didn’t happen, simply because there was no trophy. After young Tom Morris was given the original winner’s leather belt for keeps after clinching his third consecutive Open in 1870, the organisers failed to come up with a replacement trophy until two days before the 1872 Open.
The Claret Jug (proper name the Golf Champion Trophy) was finally introduced the following year.
9) BAD MATHS
10 years after Ian Woosnam won his only Major, his Irish caddy, Miles Byrne, cost him a great chance of another in 2001 – not to mention a possible Ryder Cup spot and bucketloads of cash – when he failed to notice that Woosie’s bag had too many clubs in it.
Byrne finally spotted the extra driver on the second tee, moments after Woosie had birdied his opening hole of the final round to regain the joint lead. Two penalty shots later, Woosnam’s last hurrah was in pieces, but impressively he didn’t sack Byrne – just gave him “a severe bollocking”.
8) DISCO DEBUT
The tale of a naïve 19-year-old turning up for his first Open, leading after three days and then going out disco dancing until midnight on the eve of his final round sounds straight out of the John Daly manual – but this was Severiano Ballesteros at Birkdale in 1976.
Seve didn’t speak a word of English, was staying in a humble B&B, had a policeman for a caddie who knew nothing about golf, and had to play his last two rounds with the world’s best player, Johnny Miller. The two men didn’t speak until the 17th green of the final round (when Miller was finally sure he would win) at which point Ballesteros discovered the American spoke fluent Spanish.
7) ROE’S WOE
Victory was no longer on the cards for England’s Mark Roe at Royal St George’s in 2003 after he and his partner, Jesper Parnevik, forgot to swap their scorecards before the start of the third round.
Roe shot a 67 that would have put him tied for third place going into the final day – but instead he and Parnevik were sent packing by the hard-nosed R&A, which ruled they had posted incorrect scorecards.
6) HALE AND FAREWELL
Another critical air-putt occurred at the 1983 Open at Royal Birkdale, where Hale Irwin owned up to catching the ground and missing the ball while attempting to tap in a two-inch putt at the 14th during his third round.
No one else present noticed the indiscretion, but honest Hale immediately declared his howler. Sod’s law ensured that he would finish the tournament only one shot behind Tom Watson who ronically sealed victory with a tap-in from two inches.
5) DIEGEL’S AIR-PUTT
Doug Sanders’ missed tiddler on the 18th at St Andrews isn’t the worst case of yips seen on that green at the climax of an Open. In 1933, American Leo Diegel needed two putts to join two of his Ryder Cup team-mates in a play-off. Diegel, famously of a nervous temperament, hit his first putt almost stone dead.
Then he crouched over the ball again, elbows splayed out wide – and missed the ball completely. An air shot had cost him his best chance of winning the Open.
4) RABBIT STEW
The ‘74 Open at Lytham St Annes was the subject of one of golf’s most notorious rumours: That its famously sporting winner, Gary Player, had cheated at the penultimate hole – or rather that his caddie had by dropping a ball into the rough just before the time allotted for finding Player’s drive elapsed.
The South African tackled the issue head on in an interview in 2003. “That accusation was directed at my caddie, Rabbit, the first black man to caddie in the Open... What they were saying was very cruel and an attack on Rabbit because we had a six-shot lead.”
3) CARNOUSTIE INSANITY
What more can be said about the madness that came over Jean van de Velde on the final hole at Carnoustie in 1999? The Frenchman’s wheels came off, along with his shoes and socks, as he hacked wildly up the last for a triple-bogey seven when a six would have given him the Open crown.
Having started the day five shots clear, he then had to endure the excruciating misery of a four-hole play-off – which he began by driving into a gorse bush.
2) BUNKERED AGAIN
Of the many, many bizarre events that occurred at the 2003 Open, Thomas Bjorn’s bunker travails were surely the most twisted. In the first round he notched up a quadruple-bogey eight at the 17th.
Then at the climax of his final round, he watched in horror as his attempts to get out of the 16th bunker twice rolled back to his feet. Seven shots blown in two bunkers, and he only lost the Open by one.
1) BRADSHAW BOTTLES IT
The 1949 Open at Royal St George’s was the moment Harry Bradshaw lost his battle with the bottle. In the single most bizarre piece of Open misfortune, he hit his drive at the fifth hole of his second round into semi-rough – where it landed directly inside a broken glass bottle.
Reports vary as to whether it was a beer or a whiskey bottle but, whichever, Bradshaw was unclear whether he was entitled to a free drop. Without the army of officials the Open provides these days, he opted to play the ball as it lay, grabbed a sand wedge and, shutting his eyes tight, whacked the bottle, sending splinters of glass everywhere and the ball 20 yards up the fairway.
His concentration shattered, Bradshaw took six for the hole and 77 for the round, and despite a brave fightback could only tie Bobby Locke for the lead at the finish – then lost a 36-hole play-off by 12 shots. “If the ball had been in a Guinness bottle,” the Irishman said, “I could not have brought myself to hit it.”
And another thing...