Sports Letters: Applause for Van de Velde
Wednesday 21 July 1999
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.
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