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Finishing second in the Open can be a source of torment if the runner-up is haunted by some dreadful passage where it all went wrong. Happily for Brian Huggett, who finished just two shots adrift when Peter Thomson won his fifth title at Birkdale 30 years ago, there have been no recurring nightmares.

"It must be a terrible thing to live with when you blow it," he said. "But I didn't do that. I was three-under-par for the last five holes, which was a strong finish." Huggett's 70 outscored all the leaders for the last round, but he paid dearly for a 76 the previous day, sharing second place with Christy O'Connor.

The best Welsh player to emerge since Dai Rees, Huggett left school at 15, dreamed of being a professional footballer but followed his father, George, into golf. Only 5ft 6in, he was a pugnacious competitor who numbered the 1968 PGA Matchplay and 1970 Dunlop Masters among his triumphs. He was equal third in the Open at Troon in 1962.

Now 58, he divides his time mainly between a golf course design business and the burgeoning European Seniors Tour, in which he is the leading player.

"It is 14 years since I retired from the circuit, but with the advances in equipment my golf today compares pretty well," he said. "I'm averaging under 70 on the Seniors Tour." The inaugural tournament at St Pierre in 1991, which he won, was his first competitive golf for 10 years.

Jon Culley