Saturday, July 18, 2009

French Dip

So Tom Watson -- who was winning major golf championships when I was in junior high and high school and "Fruit Stripe Gum" pants were all the rage on the links -- is leading the British Open with 18 holes to play. If he manages to pull it off, it would definitely be one of the all-time great stories in sports.

Ten years ago today, a very different sort of story was written in the remote hills and dales of Scotland. This is the tenth anniversary of the worst individual (as opposed to team) collapse I've ever personally witnessed in sports, that of the French golfer Jean Van de Velde at the 1999 British Open in Carnoustie. The completely obscure Van de Velde had come from out of nowhere to lead the tournament by three shots with one hole to play. That hole, however, was one of the hardest holes on an exceptionally difficult course that had been made even rougher by what can only be described as a sadistic groundskeeper.  Granted, Van de Velde was unlucky on where that second shot bounced and landed, but the silliness in the water is still comical today.  No wonder several commentators lambasted him for it right there on the spot.

Though Van de Velde was given high marks by press and fans for the grace with which he took his defeat, he has not been heard from since.

I certainly hope that Watson can avoid such a fate tomorrow and defy the pull of time's gravity for one more day. If he falls apart, however, it's unlikely to be in so extravagantly melodramatic a fashion as this.

1 comment:

Joe Torcivia said...


I’m no fan of golf, but even I’M pulling for Tom Watson today!

That 1999 British Open climax looked like something that should have involved Donald Duck and Gladstone Gander! Poor guy!

On the subject of anniversaries, today is ALSO the 10th Anniversary of NY Yankees’ David Cone’s perfect game against the Montreal Expos!

It’s actually a big deal around here, as David Cone is a huge fan-favorite, given his successes with both the Yankees and the Mets! (Cone is also one of the broadcast team on the Yankees’ “YES Network”)

They honored him today at Yankee Stadium, where he threw out the first pitch – to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was Cone’s catcher for the perfect game!