After years of American domination, European golfers were now winning Major titles with regularity and a “home” success at Carnoustie would come as no surprise. Even so, few were predicting that Aberdonian Paul Lawrie, despite having two European Tour titles to his name, including success in the Qatar Masters earlier in the year, would be the man to claim the title!
Yet after one of the most dramatic endings in the illustrious 139 year history of the Open Lawrie, ranked 159 in the world and a 100-1 outsider when the tournament teed off, was lifting the coveted Claret Jug on the Sunday evening.
The week had not been without it's controversy.
Accusations (mainly, it must be said from disgruntled Americans) that the R&A and Head Green-keeper John Philp had combined to make the course too tough were denied by the governing body, but it's beyond dispute that the course was exceptionally difficult, with landing areas on some fairways down to 15 yards in width.
Few players were able to break, or even match, the par of 71 in the first three rounds, but despite the relatively high scoring, the scene was set for a dramatic last day.
Perhaps even more than “Paul Lawrie”, the name of Jean van de Velde will be associated with the 1999 Open Championship. The Frenchman was a comparative unknown in the golf world, yet as the only man to equal par, he led the tournament after three rounds, with Lawrie trailing some ten strokes back.
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