“This is really, this is uh, this is so, so, so, so, so sad”: Jean van de Velde’s 18th hole at the 1999 Open Championship

“This is really, this is uh, this is so, so, so, so, so sad”: Jean van de Velde’s 18th hole at the 1999 Open Championship

For the first look back I have actually chosen a moment that just barely comes in under the wire of the decade: Jean van de Velde’s 18th hole meltdown at the 1999 Open (Don’t call it the British Open or so help me you will be attacked with tweed jackets and newsboy caps) Championship. For those of you that are unaware, here is the tale of the tape of this train wreck:

WHAT: 128TH Open Championship

WHEN: July 18, 1999

WHERE: Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland

WHO: Jean van de Velde, relative unknown leads most of the way, until the 72nd hole on Sunday….

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: The end of this tournament coincided with a long weekend family trip to Lake Erie. We were staying at a nice resort and being that my brothers and I were ages 15, 12, 11 and 7 we were insufferables of the highest order. The highlight was on the last day we were supposed to take a trip to Put-In-Bay. My brother spilled pop on his shorts within 3 minutes of being in our van and rather than turn back for the resort my mom attempted to dry them by holding them out the window. She promptly lost control of them while we were going 70 mph on the highway. After a futile attempt to retrieve them and some uh, squabbles amongst each other, the decision was made to go back to the resort, gather our things and go home. After packing up, on the way home my dad spotted the shorts on the side of the road, pulled over and picked them up while everybody sat in silence. HOLIDAY ROOOOOOOOAD

Carnoustie is always a tough Open Championship venue and with bad weather conditions this installment was particularly difficult. Put it this way, David Frost shot 80 in the first round and still ended up tied for 7th. Van de Velde got control of the tournament early and even with a 5 stroke lead heading into Sunday it was basically the countdown to when he was going to choke it all away. However, he kept it together nicely most of the day, until he enters the difficult 18th with a 3 stroke lead. They always say the 3 stroke lead is the most dangerous lead in golf.

Now, most people familiar with this moment remember Mike Tirico being on the call for ABC Sports. I heard something where Mike actually mentioned this is the moment brought up most when random people approach him. HOWEVAH, we’re going to the home broadcast for this one and we’ll hand it over to international delight Peter Alliss with the BBC coverage.


Peter Alliss comes out firing right from the get-go. Like soccer (futbol, footy, or whatever your preferred nomenclature is, dude), British sports broadcasters are not ones to mince words when covering an event, as the way it should be with sports. As Brett Favre once apparently said when asked if he was chewing tobacco while on the sideline, “Yeah, this ain’t church.” But anyway, van de Velde pulls driver and is immediately questioned because, well, no one can believe he has put himself into position to win in the first place.


“Ooooo you lucky little rascal” as van de Velde’s drive just misses the water. The Little Rascals were actually quite the golfers thank you very much.


Van de Velde gives the drive the Joey Bosa shrug. Let’s see how it plays out for him.



“You get your money’s worth from the French.” I assume this is a backhanded compliment of the highest order, in line with something Vinnie Jones would drop in Eurotrip.


Trivia question: Who was paired with Van de Velde in the final round? Without the Internet I would have needed about 500 guesses to come up with Aussie Craig Parry.


The two biggest things I know about Craig Parry are that he once won at Doral by jarring one from the fairway, and that at quick glance I would always get his name mixed up with Chris Perry. Who’s Chris Perry you ask? No, not the running back of Michigan fame (get stuffed, Chris) but of the Ohio State golf fame, and this great trading card photo. Perry was a middling Tour player, but once came to a junior golf tournament at my home golf course and hit some drivers that you could have convinced me were going 450 yards. Basically he was Bill Brasky.

Anyway, Craig Parry’s most distinguishing feature is that he looks like if your 90’s dad played professional golf, and hey, kudos to him to carry that swagger all the way to the final group in an Open Championship.


One of my favorite traditions of the Open Championship, when they just let everyone run like hell behind the final group. It’s like the lamest Beatles tribute ever.



Why yes that is van de Velde’s caddy sporting a backwards newsboy cap. And not really of the Samuel L. Jackson variety but more of the Michael Scott variety. My brother got on a big kick with these one summer and there are some photos out there that would likely derail any presidential hopes if they were to surface.



“Anything going left and hard will go out of bounds, I think he’s firing right of the clock.” See, van de Velde had plenty or reason to hit it right, even if that meant hitting it off bleachers.


The look of a man who’s got it alllll figured out.



“I think, really, if anybody needs an advisor he does, at this moment”. Meanwhile Kangol Kaddy is shining.


Only a minute and a half later Alliss has an analysis of van de Velde’s 2nd shot on par with that of Kevin Costner’s Zapruder film breakdown.  He’s lived his whole life for this moment.


Mrs. Van de Velde, still smiling for the time being. It’s kind of like the time my wife couldn’t stop laughing the time we hit a deer with our car.



“Well, Jean you still got a bit of work to do here, sunshine.” Why can’t Peter Alliss be hologrammed in for every big sports moment? “Well, Mr. LeBron, let’s just see if you can hit a big shot here, sweetie.”


People, I assure you, there are not $50 60-inch flatscreens available at the end of this fairway.



“His golfing brain, stopped about 10 minutes ago, I think.” Just


Paul Lawrie. Scotsman.



I’m really not sure what the sports equivalent is to the crowd crescendo as van de Velde’s ball goes in the water. Kind of the like the worst roller coaster ever. But anyway, it’s time for an important game of WHO WORE IT BETTER?

van-de-velde-whee-gif              mrs-haverkamp-gif


“Yeah that deer just came out of nowhere, HAHAHAHA”



At least Jean got his sock, shoe, pants colors right, hell I can’t figure that out half the time.



“Give him a large brandy and hop him down.” Peter Allis just has all the solutions to life, really.


*Ass in the burn, toes in the silt, I’m lying 3 in the water, a 7 iron in my hand, life is gooood today.*



Overlooked moment: This shlub in the suit almost face plants into the burn. I think that would still be number one on the Not Top 10 today if that dream scenario happens.



So remember how I said Craig Parry’s most memorable moment was that shot from the middle of the fairway at Doral? How about he DRAINS IT from the bunker right before van de Velde and gives it the most nonchalant reaction for an 18th hole-out at the Open Championship in history? Maybe it’s because he just watched a person die right before his eyes.



Alright if anyone can make sense of this Peter Alliss gibberish please let me know. It sounds like it’s straight out of Don’ You Go Rounin’ Roun to Re Ro.


You mean to tell me these people don’t have faith Jean is going to drop it right on top of Craig Parry? I mean, he showed him the line!


“This for a 7.” Somehow it doesn’t sound so magnanimous when I whisper this to myself when staring over a 10 footer.



Van de Velde makes the 10 footer, and how do you describe it? You can’t call it clutch because he just made a damn 7. An unclutch clutch putt?



Craig Parry makes a triumphant return out of left field with a jacket straight out of the family trip to Niagara Falls collection. Can’t we go to Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Dad???



Just like the rest of the Open Championship and Craig Parry’s jacket no one remembers what happened in the 3 way playoff other than Paul Lawire came out victorious, which most people other than freaks like me probably don’t remember either. Upon further inspection Mr. Van de Velde went double bogey, bogey, birdie, bogey because pars are boring, dammit. At least he bogeyed the 18th, that shouldn’t haunt his dreams or anything. In actuality van de Velde was a pretty good sport about the ordeal, including coming back in the dead of winter to play the 18th with only a putter, chronicled in an infomercial which includes a very catchy tune about putting on ice. And hey, 100 years from now golf robots will be reminiscing about the time that French humanoid decided to take a dip just like my family and I still reflect on the time my brother’s shorts were held out the window like a battle flag. It’s our lowest moments that go into eternity. Isn’t that what Gladiator said? No? What’s the difference it was fun anyway.

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