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Sunday, July 18, 1999 Published at 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK

Biarritz beach to Scottish seaside

Not having a good time

Had Jean Van de Velde's game held together at the 18th in Carnoustie he would have secured only the second tournament win of his career.

He took the loss philosophically.

"There are worse things in life," he said. "Some terrible things are happening to other people. It's only a golf tournament."

Van de Velde's wife, Brigitte, who had followed him throughout the day, was standing on a milk crate to peer over the crowd as her husband lost the plot.

Good advice

The advice she had wanted to give him at lunch that day but did not dare say would have proved helpful.

[ image: Brigitte had been following her husband's fortunes all week]
Brigitte had been following her husband's fortunes all week
"I was thinking if you have a one- or two-shot lead, don't go for the green," she said, smiling in spite of everything.

His caddie did seem angry, though, with the two exchanging a few words.

The 33-year-old started playing on the European Tour after a successful time as an amateur, and now lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

Skiing accident

His career stretches back to playing on the beach during family holidays in Biarritz.

He started playing golf properly at the age of six, and won French Youths and French Amateur titles in 1985 and 1986, before turning professional in 1987.

A year later, he clinched the European Under-25 title, but it was not until 1993 that he won his first title, returning from a skiing accident to win the Roma Masters ahead of Greg Turner in a play-off.

1996 was his best year for cash earnings - 248,711 - and he picked up 214,163 last year.

Jean Van de Velde factfile:

  • Date of birth: 29 May 1966, Mont de Marsan
  • Lives: Geneva
  • Family: wife Brigitte, children Alexandra, Anne Sophie
  • Hobbies: skiing, tennis
  • Amateur wins: 1985-86 French Youths, 1986 French Amateur
  • Turned pro: 1987
  • Pro wins: 1988 European Under-25, 1993 Rome Masters
  • Best season: 1996 - 18th on European Order of Merit

Open record:

  • 1990 - failed to qualify
  • 1991 - missed cut
  • 1993 - 33rd
  • 1994 - 38th
  • 1995 - failed to qualify
  • 1996 - failed to qualify
  • 1997 - missed cut
  • 1998 - failed to qualify
  • 1999 - runner-up in play-off

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