The Phantom of the Open, by Scott Murray & Simon Farnaby
Sunday 18 July 2010
Which Open competitor remarked: "Everything was going according to plan until I five-putted from eight feet at the second?" Step forward Maurice Flitcroft, who in 1974 carded 121 in a qualifier, the worst score in the event's history. Which was hardly surprising, as he had never played a round in his life.
If Maurice, a 46-year-old crane driver from Barrow, had left it at that he would have remained a footnote in Open history, but the hysterical over-reaction of the R&A's blimpish secretary, Keith Mackenzie, a man composed of 50 per cent rule book, 30 per cent blazer and 20 per cent gin, spurred him on, and over the next 14 years, using aliases such as Arnold Palmtree, he sneaked through the entry process again and again, with often hilarious results.
It would be easy to ridicule him as a lunatic of the links, but he comes across as a clever, warm and witty man, determined to stick up for what he saw as his rights. The players at St Andrews today may be better than Maurice, but few will have inspired more fun and affection.
Published in paperback by Yellow Jersey, £12.99
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