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16 October 2014

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Paul Lawrie wins the 1999 Open

Paul Lawrie drives

© SNSpix

The Scotsman was one of the earlier starters on the final day, but quickly moved up the leader board after posting an impressive 67, for a 6 over par total of 290. A good score certainly, but not one that he thought would ever be enough to challenge, especially as Van de Velde's nerve appeared to be holding and he reached the final tee still holding a three stroke lead, knowing that a double bogey six would give him the title.

Meanwhile, American Justin Leonard had recorded a final round 72, and he now joined Lawrie as leader in the clubhouse, on 290.

Out on the course, the drama was beginning to unfold. Despite a loose tee shot, Van de Velde was still in control, but he then put his second into the rough. Now his problems were mounting and the tournament was alive when he hacked his third into the burn.

Spectators and television viewers watched enthralled as he took off his socks and shoes, rolled up his trouser legs and prepared to try and play from the water, before sense prevailed and he took a penalty drop. In that environment, thinking clearly was almost impossible and the Frenchman eventually courageously holed a 7 foot putt - not for the victory that had looked so certain, but to join the Scot and the American in a four hole play-off.

Paul Lawrie kisses the Claret Jug

© SNSpix

The four holes selected were over the closing stretch - 15, 16, 17 and 18, with the first of them proving tough for all three competitors. Lawrie and Leonard had bogey fives, Van de Velde a double-bogey 6.

Pars for all three at the sixteenth left the situation unchanged, but when Lawrie and Van de Velde both made birdies at the 17th, the home favourite was now a shot clear of his rivals.

The pressure was now on Lawrie as he played the final hole, but he showed no sign of the strain as he produced another fine birdie to ensure that he became the first Scotsman to win Open in his native country since Tommy Armour's success at the same venue in 1931.

Written by: Dave Low

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