Sadly Jean Van de Velde won’t be playing when the British Open returns to Carnoustie for the first time since 1999 next weekend. Van de Velde, of course, is most famous for blowing a three-stroke lead on the final hole in that year’s Open. It was a surreal spectacle that I watched live on TV, and I think it took him about a half hour to play that hole with the whole world watching him. Here’s a recap from Wikipedia.
Despite a three-shot lead, Van de Velde chose to use his driver off the tee, a move widely considered to be ill-advised given the situation. He proceeded to drive the ball very far to the right. Rather than correcting his mistake by playing back to the fairway, Van de Velde decided to go for the green with his second shot. His shot drifted right and hit the grandstands on the side of the green. Had his ball landed in the grandstands he would have been given a free drop, but instead his ball bounced off of them — backwards fifty yards into knee deep rough. Van de Velde still had four shots to work with, and still could have safely played back to the fairway and then onto the green, but he decided to again go for the green. On his third shot, Van de Velde’s club got tangled in the rough on his downswing, and his ball flew into the Barry Burn. He removed his shoes and socks and gingerly stepped through shin-deep water as he debated whether to try to hit his ball out of the Barry Burn, which guards the 18th green. Ultimately, he took a drop (which added a penalty stroke to his total), and then also hit his fourth shot (fifth stroke) poorly – the ball landing in a green-side sand trap. On his fifth shot (sixth stroke) Van de Velde pitched the ball out of the sand trap and onto the green about six feet from the hole. He made the putt from there for a total of seven strokes on the hole. This disastrous triple-bogey seven dropped him into a three-way playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie. After the playoff, the Claret Jug went to Lawrie.