Thursday, August 12, 1999 Published at 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Allis defends Open commentary
"He's gone ga-ga": Van de Velde contemplates his ball's watery grave
BBC golf commentator Peter Allis has defended his controversial broadcast of the closing stages of The Open Championship.
When the Frenchman appeared to be about to play the ball from the bottom of a stream, Allis branded the Frenchman's behaviour "totally ridiculous".
"What on earth are you doing?" he pleaded to Van de Velde. "He's gone ga-ga. To attempt to hit the ball out of there is pure madness."
Allis' comments sparked a huge debate in the press.
But the newspaper's readers voted seven to one in favour of Allis continuing to front the BBC's coverage - a reaction that stunned the man himself.
"The Daily Mail said I'd failed to see the funny side of it," Allis told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"Well I didn't see anything funny in Van de Velde's demise there.
"The paper had an amazing response. People were enormously supportive.
"There was a huge balance in my favour, which is very humbling, because I didn't know these people and they wrote in from as far afield as Australia, Canada and the United States. It was quite staggering really."
As to whether his commentary resembled the BBC's grumpy sitcom character Victor Meldrew, Allis was unrepentant.
"Here was a chap who is a very nice man, a charming, courteous fellow, with the world's greatest golfing prize in the palm of his hand - and he made a terrible botch of it.
"If I sounded curmudgeonly it certainly wasn't my intention."