The Forecaddie: Jean Van de Velde still handles 1999 with absolute class

French golfer Jean Van de Velde (bottom, centre) takes his 5th shot on the 18th green in the final round of the British Open Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland, 18th July 1999. Having arrived at the 18th tee with a three-shot lead, Van de Velde narrowly lost the championship to Paul Lawrie. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Forecaddie: Jean Van de Velde still handles 1999 with absolute class

Forecaddie

The Forecaddie: Jean Van de Velde still handles 1999 with absolute class

There are those who are lucky enough to have called themselves the Champion Golfer of the Year and hoisted the Claret Jug in a moment of exhilaration.

“And some of us drop it,” Jean Van de Velde said. “I’m one of them.”
(And then there are those like The Man Out Front who have done neither, but anyways…)

Van de Velde is forever linked with the British Open at Carnoustie not for his success but rather his ever-so-public failure. He knows it. Everyone knows it.
But in all these years since his 72nd-hole collapse and subsequent playoff loss to Paul Lawrie, the Frenchman, now 52, has handled his major letdown with absolute class.

“It was a phenomenal week with great memories,” Van de Velde said of 1999. “Despite playing golf and playing in what is, to me, the best tournament that there is in the world, the Open Championship, making an enormous amount of friends and revealing to a few people who I am and the way that I take things. We all play golf for the pleasure we get from it. We all dream about achieving great things and only a few of us do.

“… I feel very privileged no matter what happened on the 72nd hole.”

TMOF has to hand it to Van de Velde, who will work for French television this week at the Open. (“I thought it was about time someone understood what I’m saying,” he quipped.) He’s been asked millions of times about the subject, yet he still has a sense of humor about it all.

After saying he has no regrets about how he played the 18th hole that Sunday, Van de Velde contended: “I’m built the way that I am built. Some people have their name on the trophy. I have my name on the bridge somewhere.”

Touché.

Though The Forecaddie must add, it’d be hard to get Van de Velde in a bad mood after France’s World Cup victory on Sunday. Talking to TMOF before Tuesday evening’s annual golf writers dinner, Van de Velde said he still hasn’t come down from his emotional high after watching Les Bleus lift the prestigious golf trophy for a second time.

“I probably haven’t celebrated enough yet,” he said.

Alas, the partying will continue for Van de Velde this week, and at Carnoustie no less. Just not like it’s 1999.

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