Golf: The Open - A French Farce on the 18th

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The Independent Online
IT WAS the most bizarre hole in Open history. Jean van de Velde had victory in his grasp before his rush of blood. Needing a double-bogey six for victory, the Frenchman embarked on a series of shots that will be the talk of golf for years to come.


Van de Velde rashly takes a driver off the tee. It seems the golfing gods are smiling on him when a post stops his ball from going into the water on the left.


Van de Velde has just over 170 yards to clear the Barry Burn in front of the 18th green. To lay up seems the sensible option but with a near perfect lie the Frenchman cannot resist going for the green. Bad decision. Van de Velde slices his medium iron and ricochets back off the grandstand, ending in heavy rough.


The trouble Van de Velde is in starts to hit home as he stands up to his knees in rough with the stream in front of him guarding the green. Gasps as he mis-hits his pitch into the water.


The gasps turn to laughter as Van de Velde takes off his shoes and socks and wades in, apparently to play it, before changing his mind and taking a penalty drop. He needs to get down in two from the dropping zone in the rough to win outright but he bunkers his pitch.


Van de Velde watches his playing partner Craig Parry hole from the same bunker. Van de Velde is not so lucky, but still splashes out to eight feet.


As the crowd runs off to see the start of the play-off, Van de Velde must make an eight-foot putt to join Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard. He bravely holes it and punches the air - the only golfer to celebrate after blowing a three-shot lead on the last hole of the Open.