Betslip Killers: 1999 Open Championship

September 5, 2016 •

This instalment of Betslip Killers takes us to the fairways of Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland, host of the 1999 Open Championship. In this series we take a look at some of the most dramatic finishes to sporting events that rendered good betting slips worthless in the final moments of the game (or tournament). From soccer, to the NBA, and golf to snooker there are some absolute classics that had people crying into their worthless pieces of paper.

The 1999 Open Golf Championship

1999 openAside from the Masters, The Open Championship is probably the highlight of the golf calendar. It’s typically held at tough links courses which are a true test of every aspect of your golf game. Howling wind, sideways rain, and bunkers deep enough to require a ladder to get out are all commonplace.

Frenchman, Jean Van De Velde was dealing with the test admirably in July 1999. He took over the lead in the second round and went into the clubhouse on Friday night sitting at the top of the heap on a score of +1, which will give you an idea of just how tough the course was playing. In his rear view mirror were Angel Cabrera on +2, Jesper Parnevik on +3, and a certain Tiger Woods sitting on +4.

On Saturday he kept his head when all about him were losing their. Woods slipped to +7, Cabrera to +8, and his closest rivals were Craig Parry and a young Justin Leonard on +5. All he had to do was steer it around the course conservatively on Sunday and the Claret Jug would be his.

The Sunday Collapse

In fact, it’s probably not entirely correct to call it the Sunday Collapse, because for most of the day Van De Velde played pretty well.Craig Parry had threatened and even gone in front half way through the round, but had a nightmare last 7 holes. Van De Velde had played conservatively and held a 3 shot lead going into the final hole, sitting +3 for the day and the tournament.

Paul Lawrie had battled his way in from +10 to +6, while Justin Leonard shot a +1 to sit with Lawrie, three back as Van De Velde played the last.

The 18th was a 487 yard par 4 and with three shots to spare the smart play for Van De Velde was to take an iron off the tee, but he elected to go with his driver. Wildly right off the tee, instead of laying up and taking his punishment he opted to go for a dramatic long-iron recovery shot to the green. The wild iron shot rifled off the main grandstand, into a water hazard (the Barry Burn) and out again into some long grass. His hacked recovery shot landed back in the Burn!

He was now lying 3 in the water just short of the green needing a 6 to win the Jug. He gave serious consideration to playing out of the water, even taking his shoes and socks off, but eventually saw sense and elected to take a penalty drop. The nightmare continued though, as he landed his pitch in a deep greenside bunker. Somehow, he managed to get up-and-down from the bunker (his putt was from about 8 ft) and holed out for an ugly, ugly seven, which meant he was off to a playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie.

Lawrie went on to win the four hole playoff by three clear shots from Leonard and Van De Velde, having completed a comeback from 10 shots behind the leader on the final day. A feat that to this day has yet to be bettered. Anyone who put a bet on Lawrie on that final day (there’s always one isn’t there?!) is probably still dining out on it, as they could have name their price. On the other hand, those who thought they could earn some pennies on the dollar on a sure thing by backing Van De Velde were shown, once again, that nothing is certain in sport.

Here’s the video of that final hole, if you can stand to look!

The next we saw of Van De Velde on the big stage was when he made a dramatic comeback at the 2005 Open de France, where he lost a playoff to fellow Frenchman Jean-François Remésy after, once again, finding water on the last hole.

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