Peter Allis - 1999 British Open- Is Golf Fair?

Some great commentary by Peter Allis right here at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie about course conditions and “is it fair”.

Shows Davis Love3 hitting from the rough…in fact I played with DL3 in the final round of this event and he shot 68 on the Sunday and jumped a bunch of people and only finished 3 from the playoff at 8 over par total


how did you do that year Hugo?

The pros always talk about the course set up that year as almost unplayable. Did you find it that way as well?

I played with Hal Sutton and Patrick Sjoland the first two days and believe I was doing well after the first 2 rounds…75-70 (par 70) which was way up there …probably around top 10…
Saturday I birdied #3 to get right in the mix and then missed the fairway on 5 and did exactly what DL3 did…tried to pitch out and it went sideways because the hosel got wrapped in all that rough…did it again on #7 also…made double both times…I think I shot 76-78 on the weekend and wound up in the 40’s position wise
The course that year was brutal…BUT…It doesn’t really matter what score you shoot…Does it?..Do you think they gave Paul Lawrie only 70% of the check because he won with 5 over par?..His name is on that ‘Auld Jug’ forever
I will say that I actually enjoyed playing that course. It was frustrating, but there were only penalties out there for poor shots…Par actually meant something…the course was very fair from the fairway and it wasn’t like the wind howled any day that made it too tough.
They even shaved down some areas of the rough on the wednesday night before the 1st round to make it easier on a couple of holes…right hand side of lay up area on Par 5 6th hole and somewhere else…maybe the right side of 12 which was a par 5 converted to a par 4 (same tee!!)…
I know it sounds weird that Paul Lawrie won it (he did shoot 67 the last day to come from no-where)…and that Jean VanDeVelde should have won it until he made a mess of 18…those aren’t real house hold names in the world of golf but it was a test and some just weren’t up to it…Some would argue and say the course didn’t bring out a ‘real champion’ that week… but Carnoustie did well in past years with an honour roll list of Cotton, Hogan, Player, Watson before that…
I loved it- you would go nuts playing that severe a course every week…BUT…it’s Major golf and it is meant to be tough to test all your areas of the game.

Didn’t VanDeVelde hit his second shot into the right bleachers and then it kicked back into the creek? If I remember correctly, had it stayed in the bleachers he gets a free drop? I think he was questioned for hitting driver off the tee, but I think he had been hitting his driver really good on the previous holes so why not go with what has been working?

Wasn’t there OB long and left on the approach into the green? The bailout right seemed the right play to lock up the win.
I suspect if I am remembering this right… he really was very unfortunate.

Yep…driver from tee 2 iron into green…bailed it right into the stand

Carnoustie 18th hole has OOB stakes about 7 yards left of the green so to miss right was the obvious play

His second shot bounced backwards off the stand onto the wall surrounding the burn in front of the green and then bounced another 20 yards backwards into some really high rough- so he did get screwed. Dumped the next in the burn/creek… and then took a drop after getting in the burn and pondering hitting it out? the end got up and down from the right bunker and holed about an 8 footer for a triple bogey to get into the playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie

Jean didn’t do much wrong-- but I am thinking if I was 3 shots ahead on the 72nd tee…I would be playing that hole 4 iron from the tee- then 5 iron lay up short of the burn then a wedge onto the green and then still have 3 putts to win
He could have taken all that bad luck out of play that way- But he did what he thought was right- It only then becomes the wrong choice if it backfires on you- If he had ripped his drive right down the middle instead of flirting with the burn on the right and then ripped his 2 iron to the heart of the green and then two putted to win by three shots they would have said 'Great Play on the 18th hole" and there would be statues of him down The Champs Elysees

Curtis Strange did a good shot by shot analysis of that train wreck for ESPN a while back & it was money. I will never ever forget watching that with my jaw on the floor, who the hell does that with a 3 shot lead there? Tuck your tail,err ego between your legs, hit a 5 iron & two 9 irons, make your five and become a national sports hero. Every single thing about every shot until the bunker shot was totally wrong. Wrong club, shot, direction, strategy yadda yadda yadda. Why in God’s name do you pull a 2 iron out and aim it at a grandstand laying 1 (a miracle in itself) when you have 200 plus yds of fairway left and 5 shots left to get in? Wedge wedge and 2 putts evn after the driver that the caddy should have never let him hit. Snap it in two go Tin Cup if that’s what it takes…

Nah…where’s your French side Leco… :wink:

Jean on what happened in his own words here:!

And just to remember the 71 holes beforehand:

Gotta love Jean…

C’est la Vie


Actually Two you were T4 after 2 days with Patrick Sjoland, Tiger Woods and Paul Lawrie himself! :smiley:

Well there you go Arnie…I didn’t remember being that high up…the weekend scores erased my memory

I think he was questioned for hitting driver off the tee, but I think he had been hitting his driver really good on the previous holes so why not go with what has been working.

What were the odds that his 2 iron would bounce off the stands and back across the creek into a horrible lie? Then having to deal with getting over the creek? If his ball stays on the greenside of the creek, it’s a free drop from either the stands or line of sight behind the stands. Tournament is over and he wins. All he had to do was hit the ball into the stands and he wins… unless his ball bounces back over the creek which it did. I really wonder how many balls he would have to have hit for that to happen. Very unlikely I would think.

If he had laid up short of the creek, he brings in all sorts of negative outcomes. Suppose he makes a bad swing and misses the fairway short of the creek. Then he might be in some nasty rough and still have to get it over the creek on his third shot. Suppose he had a horrible lie and dumped his 3rd into the creek laying up. He would be hitting 5, and then would have to get that ball onto the green and down in two putts just to make a playoff.

So knowing those possible outcomes… he evaluated his lie, and apparently it was good enough to pull a 2 iron and he felt confident enough that he could strike it cleanly and get the ball over the creek and into the stands to take advantage of the free drop. If he was chipping near greenside with no creek in his way… the drop area was probably a pretty easy pitch to the green. He would be on in 3, and could then 3 putt from anywhere on the green and still win. Makes sense to me. Had his ball stayed in the stands, he likely pitches on and two putts for a 5 and wins by two strokes and no one ever questions either decision to hit driver off the tee or play the two iron into the stands. I think he did all the right things…played the percentages correctly and just came up with a horrible break, like your roulette ball landing in the green zero slot on the wheel… and I would almost guess that the odds of what happened to him might be like landing on roulette zero 3 times in a row. I could be wrong, but I would probably have done the same thing he did.

I played Carnoustie the last day before it closed for the open that year. What a battle that was! My brand spanking new box of pro V1’s went missing in no time. I shot 85 on a calm day. bad strategy of “to hell with it” out of the rough trying to be a hero. Only live once and all that.

the next day we played St Andrews Old Course and I shot 73… better ball striking day? Carnoustie :open_mouth: Amazing weekend

You’re showing off now Craig. I played Carnoustie in 98, played well, shot 89. What a bastard of a course.