Roe resolves to put Open blunder behind him

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The Independent Online

After winning the Open Championship, Ben Curtis had one glass of champagne. After being disqualified, Mark Roe stopped at an off-licence and bought a bottle of rosé champagne, which was one way of drowning his sorrows.

"I sat on a bean bag and drank myself to sleep," Roe said. "Because of the huge swing of emotions, there was no way my eyes were going to close naturally. I woke at 4am in the front room. You replay everything over and over in your mind. I couldn't believe I wasn't playing with Tiger Woods in the last round."

Whereas Curtis, finally awakening from the midsummer night's dream, has withdrawn from the Greater Hertford Open this week, Roe has journeyed to Portmarnock to play in the Nissan Irish Open. "I wouldn't have taken this week off. It's much better to play," he said.

Thomas Bjorn, who lost a three-shot lead with four holes to play at Sandwich, has also travelled to Ireland in search of catharsis, although he and Roe could hardly have chosen a tougher assignment. If Royal St George's is one of the playing fields of the City of London, Portmarnock, a links of rare pedigree, is the Dublin equivalent. Curtis was the only player to finish under par at Sandwich. If the wind blows here, the scores will be as high as a kite.

A double-bogey five on the short 16th, where he took three shots to get out of the right-hand bunker, did for Bjorn in the Open. "It was such a difficult bunker shot," he said. "I got caught out off the tee. I should have been 30 feet left of the flag. I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night and that golf ball will be rolling back into the sand like the biggest snowball in the world."

During a practice round here, Bjorn overheard a boy saying: "There's the guy who lost the Open." The Dane was tempted to hit him. "If he'd been 25 instead of 10, I'd have given him a bang on the head.

"What happened will follow me for a long, long time, but Jean van de Velde is still alive. It will only be forgotten when I win a major championship. I have fallen off a horse very hard and I've got to jump back on. I know my golf is as good as anyone's. There's nobody out there I can't beat.'' Ernie Els told him as much in a phone call which was very gratefully received.

But for forgetting to exchange score cards on the first tee with Jesper Parnevik, Roe would have partnered Woods in the fourth round. "I watched the last hour and a half on TV,'' Roe, who received 57 text messages between Sandwich and Sheffield, said. "I couldn't resist seeing what was going on. I was desperately disappointed for Thomas."

Roe remains philosophical, although it would not be inappropriate if he proceeded to play wearing a cap adorned with a question mark. "There was no anger, resentment or bitterness," he said. "It was my fault. That's the first time in 20 years as a pro that I haven't exchanged my score card. Why, why, when I shoot one of the best rounds of my life, did I do it that day? That's what I keep asking myself. I could have done it at the Madeira Open or the Sheffield Winter bloody Alliance, but why do it in the chuffin' Open Championship?"

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