Max Faulkner

Flamboyant golfer who won the Open in 1951

Max Faulkner, one of the most flamboyant golfers of his generation, was also one of the most talented. Dressed in the most dazzling outfits, Faulkner won the Open Championship in 1951 at Royal Portrush. No British golfer was to do so again until Tony Jacklin in 1969.

Max Faulkner, golfer: born Bexhill, East Sussex 29 July 1916; OBE 2001; married; died 26 February 2005.

Max Faulkner, one of the most flamboyant golfers of his generation, was also one of the most talented. Dressed in the most dazzling outfits, Faulkner won the Open Championship in 1951 at Royal Portrush. No British golfer was to do so again until Tony Jacklin in 1969.

The son of a golf professional who owned his own course at Selsey, Faulkner played only one round of golf while serving in the RAF from 1939 to 1945. But after the Second World War he set about playing in tournaments with fun, adventure and a style all of his own. Once, claiming he needed to get blood to his brain, he walked from a green to the next tee on his hands.

He amassed a collection of 300 putters (many made by him), but his talent lay in his superb striking of a golf ball, whether with the driver or the long irons. It may even have been too easy; often he would experiment to give himself a new challenge.

Faulkner won 16 times around Europe, including the Portuguese Open at the age of 52, but the pinnacle of his career was winning the Open. Two rounds were then played on the final day and he had a six-stroke lead as he went in to lunch. A small boy asked for his autograph and for him to add the postscript: "Open Champion 1951". Faulkner did so and lived up to the boast by winning by two strokes.

"It was all I ever wanted," Faulkner said of his triumph. But during the following year's Open he knew he would never win it again. "Somehow the desire had gone."

Faulkner played five times in the Ryder Cup, including the rare victory by the then British team over the Americans at Lindrick in 1957. Faulkner was not playing on the last afternoon but rushed around the course offering encouragement and support to those who were.

His enthusiasm for the golf was constant throughout his life. He set up one of the first schemes for coaching aspiring young professionals and became a mentor to Brian Barnes, who would become his son-in-law, and Tommy Horton, both Ryder Cup players. He played in many exhibitions, gave many clinics and raised large sums for charity.

Until a few years before his death, he still played nine holes in 36 strokes at West Chiltington, Sussex, the club where he had a half-share. He was appointed OBE in 2001 on the 50th anniversary of his Open victory.

Andy Farrell

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