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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 July, 2005, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Trophy tales
By Rob Hodgetts
BBC Sport at St Andrews

Sports trophies, even the most famous ones, are not always treated with reverence. 

Todd Hamilton poses with the Claret Jug after his play-off victory last year
Hamilton poses with the jug - and it wasn't long before it was full of beer
Stories of misuse abound, from damaging drops to dubious disappearances.  

The Open's Claret Jug is no exception, and if defending champion Todd Hamilton is to be believed, the silver trophy is now saddled with the unshakeable aroma of stale beer.  

Not that the Claret Jug doing the rounds is the real one.

The original, made in 1873, is kept in a secure glass case in the Royal and Ancient clubhouse at St Andrews.  

The winner receives a year's loan of a replica, which has developed an unruly history of its own.  

One large dent was rumoured to be the result of a backyard game of Aussie Rules football, though while no-one is naming the culprit, the clues are easy to follow.  

"The first time I got it, I immediately had to give it back for a few months because there were a few dings in it," said Nick Faldo, Open champion in 1987, 1990 and 1992.

After Greg Norman's first victory at Turnberry in 1986, the Great White Shark and a group of friends ventured back down to the 18th green in the middle of the night.  

"We were drinking champagne out of the Claret Jug and two security guards came along with dogs and were going to kick us off," said Norman, who also won in 1993.  

"Eventually, they realised who we were and what we were doing and I invited them to join us.   

Ernie Els won the Open in 2002
A lot of friends had a lot of sips out of the jug
2002 Open champion Ernie Els
"So there we were, all having a drink on the 18th at about one o'clock in the morning, and that's what it's all about."  

Norman added with a twinkle: "The best story is a good one but I can't tell you."  

Ernie Els, the champion at Muirfield in 2002, was also keen to employ the cup as more than just a mantelpiece filler.

"We did a lot of drinking out of it," said the South African.

"A lot of friends around the world had a lot of sips out of the jug.

"It's like the Stanley Cup (for ice hockey) in America - you've got to have a slug out of it."  

England's Faldo revealed a more sentimental side, preferring to get his kicks from sleeping next to the trophy.

"When you wake up in the morning you can put your hand out in the dark and say, 'Bloody hell, it's the Claret Jug'," said Faldo.  

Whether its next contents is Californian chardonnay, Scotch whisky or even Fijian kava, the jug is braced for a new journey and a fresh adventure.

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