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Monday, July 19, 1999 Published at 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK

Lawrie wins dramatic Open

Paul Lawrie: Not considered a potential winner

Scotland's Paul Lawrie has won the Open Championship at Carnoustie in one of the most bizarre climaxes of the competition's history.

BBC Golf Correspondent Tony Adamson: "A most extraordinary finish"
Lawrie - the first qualifier to win the greatest prize in golf - claims £350,000 in prize money and a place at the US Masters, as well as securing his berth in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

"I think I'm going to can't be any better. I can't believe it," Lawrie said, as he finished three strokes ahead of his play-off rivals before a hugely partisan crowd.

French disaster

The championship was settled in driving rain with a three-way decider over four holes after Lawrie tied with Frenchman Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard of the US for the lead.

[ image: Van de Velde: More Jacques Cousteau than Jack Nicklaus]
Van de Velde: More Jacques Cousteau than Jack Nicklaus
Van de Velde, ranked 152 in the world, blew a three shot lead going into the final hole with a triple bogey disaster to leave the three players neck-and-neck at the top of the table on six over.

Lawrie, from Aberdeen, himself ranked 159, shot six birdies on Sunday to bring him up to six over for the championship.

He finished the last round on 67, equalling the best of the tournament set by Craig Parry on Saturday.

Leonard had slipped back to six over with two late bogeys after briefly sharing the lead with the French qualifier at four over on the 14th.

Play-off farce

Paul Lawrie: "I'm a local boy"
The tension was almost unbearable going into the four-hole decider, particularly in view of the Frenchman's agonising downfall just minutes before.

But the play-off quickly descended into farce as all three players drove left off the 15th into a combination of deep rough and gorse bushes.

[ image: Justin Leonard: Barry Burn ended his hopes]
Justin Leonard: Barry Burn ended his hopes
In a hole that took half-an-hour to play, a shattered-looking Van de Velde suffered the most, being forced to take a penalty drop for an eventual double bogey.

Leonard and Lawrie also bogeyed the first then as the rain hammered down all three surreally bogeyed the second.

The Scot then eased ahead on the third hole of the decider - the 17th - with a sweetly taken birdie to go one over. Van de Velde followed suit to claw back a stroke.

The BBC's Mark Pougach looks back, in pictures, at Paul Lawrie's win
But it was the 18th that once again proved decisive. Van de Velde revisited his nightmares with a drive into rough that effectively put him out of the competition.

Leonard's shot for the green was even more calamitious as he fired it straight into the Barry Burn and killed his chances of a second Open to add to his 1997 victory at Royal Troon.

Lawrie triumph

Lawrie, on the other hand, looked composed as he hit the ball squarely onto the green, where it ran to within four feet of the pin, accompanied by wild cheering.

The BBC's Tony Adamson: "That's the winner"
Van de Velde holed first for three over for the play-off, followed by Leonard for the same score.

Lawrie then put his championship-winning birdie putt down with authority and immediately raised his arms to accept the adulation of the crowd.

"I'm 30, but I feel my career is just starting. I feel I can compete with the big guys now," he said after receiving the famous Claret Jug.

"I don't know how I kept my cool for the four extra holes. I took it one at a time."

After pulling off one of the greatest chokes in Open history, Van de Velde said: "It just came out to be a nightmare."

A dejected Leonard said: "I basically lost the Open twice in one day which makes it twice as hard to take" - referring to his dropped shot on the 18th hole of the final round.

In a day of constantly evolving fortunes and considerable movement at the top of the leaderboard, Van de Velde could afford to double bogey the last and still win.

Paddling in Barry Burn

With Leonard and Lawrie poised in joint second at six over, the day looked as if it was about to end with the first French victory since 1907.

But Van de Velde played the worst imaginable approach, dropping his ball first in the rough, then in the dreaded Barry Burn water hazard and finally in a green-side bunker.

He even took off his shoes and socks and climbed into the Burn in an attempt to rescue his title hopes, but it was to no avail.

Van de Velde went into the final day on level par for the championship - five shots clear, with Parry and Leonard in joint second on five over.

Final day leaderboard

Gbr and Irl unless stated, Par 71

290Winner: Paul Lawrie (after four-hole play-off), Justin Leonard (USA), Jean Van de Velde (Fra)
291 Angel Cabrera (Arg), Craig Parry (Aus)
292 Greg Norman (Aus)
293 Davis Love III (USA), Tiger Woods (USA), David Frost (Rsa)
294 Jim Furyk (USA), Scott Dunlap (USA), Retief Goosen (Rsa) , Jesper Parnevik (Swe), Hal Sutton (USA)
295Scott Verplank (USA), Tsuyoshi Yoneyama (Jpn), Colin Montgomerie
296 Lee Westwood, Costantino Rocca (Ita), Patrik Sjoland (Swe), Bernhard Langer (Ger), Frank Nobilo (Nzl), Andrew Coltart,
297 Ernie Els (Rsa), Peter O'Malley (Aus), Brian Watts (USA), Ian Woosnam, Miguel Angel Martin (Spa)
298 Padraig Harrington

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