Home Golf Looking Back At Carnoustie’s Top Three Open Championships

Looking Back At Carnoustie’s Top Three Open Championships

Carnoustie or “Car-Nasty” as it is referred to by some stellar golfers who have suffered on the course hosts The Open for the eighth time this week.

Such are the unique challenges thrown up by the Scottish links golf course that in the wake of the 1999 Open it inspired a phrase “The Carnoustie effect.”
Its definition is:

“That degree of mental and psychic shock experienced on collision with reality by those whose expectations are founded on false assumptions.”

The Carnoustie effect is not applied just to golf but has been used to describe military operations this century that went badly wrong when victory was anticipated.

We highlight three of the memorable Opens at the course and in which “The Carnoustie effect” could be applied.

1. Armour Shines (1931)

Tommy Armour may have been five shots off the lead going into the final round but if there was a player one would have backed for never giving up hope it was the Scotland-born naturalised American.

That steely determination was borne out of losing his eyesight in one eye when fighting in the British Army due to a mustard gas attack by the German Army in World War I. He shot a superb one-under par 71 in the final round with overnight leader Argentinian Jose Jurado experiencing “The Carnoustie effect” light years ahead of the phrase being coined recording a 77 to finish runner-up.

“His hands were hot but his head was cool,” is how Armour known throughout as ‘The Silver Scot’ was summed up by Herbert Warren Wind in his book “The Story of American Golf.”


2. Van de Velde’s Burnout (1999)

Frenchman Jean van de Velde began the final round five shots ahead and was within one hole of tasting the champagne and lifting the Claret Jug….then disaster struck.

Conditions were so dire that he could have won the title even with a double bogey on the last but he came away with a triple bogey after his third shot went into the Barry Burn. Instead of accepting the accolades of the crowd as the first Frenchman to win a major since 1907 he trudged disconsolately off into a three-way play-off which Scotsman Paul Lawrie, who had shot a superb 67, won.

The fallout from that nightmare carried over into his personal life as he separated in 2002 from Brigitte his wife, coach and mother of their two daughters.

“After Carnoustie, he wasn’t the same person,” she told The Times this week. “Our relationship changed. It was the start of a new Jean, a Jean that I had not known before, the famous Jean…Jean was not happy. The joy had gone. He never forgave himself for what happened at Carnoustie.”


3. Harrington’s Duel In The Crown (2007)

Padraig Harrington began the final day six shots off leader Sergio Garcia but by the time the Irishman came to the final hole he led the Spaniard by one in an extraordinary turnaround.

However the ghost of van de Velde of 1999 enveloped Harrington as he not once but twice put the ball into Barry Burn and signed off with a double bogey leaving Garcia now one shot in the lead.

However, Garcia — who had run in tears to his mother at the 1999 edition after shooting two rounds over 80 — bogeyed the last to face a four hole playoff with Harrington.

Rory McIlroy — who was leading amateur at the major — distracted Harrington’s young son by playing with him during the play-off. Harrington took a two-shot lead to the 18th and although he bogeyed, it was enough for him to become the first Irish winner since Northern Ireland’s Fred Daly in 1957.



About Richard Barrett

Richard Barrett is a Co-Founder and Head of Content at Pundit Arena. You can follow him on Twitter via @TheBoyBarrett .