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Sports Letters: Applause for Van de Velde

Sir: Hindsight is 20-20 and there were no shortage of people around with perfect vision after Jean Van de Velde surrendered his lead on the 18th at Carnoustie.

Van de Velde isn't exactly the first golfer in history to opt for a driver rather than use an iron on this particular hole and - commanding lead or not - it is grossly unfair to question his sanity simply because he chose an attacking policy rather than a conservative one. He could still have ended up in the rough, miles off the green if some limp-wristed, play-it-safe, iron stroke had gone stray.

Moreover, where do people get off suggesting Van de Velde is insane for contemplating playing a stroke when he was in the Burn? With every stroke worth thousands and still in with a chance of winning the Open outright if he could somehow have got on to the green and down in a single putt, Van de Velde would have been mad not to have shed shoes and socks and climbed in for a look if he thought there was a chance in a million of being able to play the ball.

In the end he bowed to the inevitable and accepted a lost stroke, but he should be applauded for considering all options, despite the colossal pressure he was under.


London E14