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19th Hole
These are some of the stories from July 2002 when the Open Championship returned to Muirfield, home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. The world No.1, Tiger Woods was going for the third act of the Grand Slam, but lost his way during the third round when driving rain and wind lashed the course. On Sunday evening four players tied on six-under-par and for the first time in Open history a four-hole cumulative stroke-play contest took place. This was followed by a sudden-death play-off between Ernie Els and Frenchman Thomas Levet, when the South African sunk a five foot putt on the 18th green to become the 131st Open Champion.

A Good Walk Spoiled
THE WEST LINKS at North Berwick was one of the qualifying courses for the Open championship where 96 players were competing for six places. Scott Henderson (below) from Kings Links in Aberdeen, a former European Tour rookie of the year was the leading qualifier at North Berwick with rounds of 65 and 68. In Wednesday's practice round at Muirfield 32 year-old Henderson turned up on the first tee with the intention of playing on his own, but John Daly appeared from behind the barrier to ask if he would like a playing partner. The two hit it off to such and extent that after a few holes, Daly had snatched a 'Quiet Please' sign from the nearest marshall and was holding it aloft while Henderson played. On the 10th tee, Henderson and Daly were joined by none other than world No.8 David Duval who made up a threesome. A startled Henderson turned to his mates in the crowd, shrugged and looked to the heavens. So much for a good walk spoiled.

Best Fish-Supper in Town
THE OPEN at Muirfield is very special to the players. The atmosphere is completely different from any other tournament they play. It's the little seaside towns, the courses and the people which make it so unique. The players can enjoy wandering around town without being hassled. Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson and Vijay Singh were among the faces spotted sampling the delights of the local takeaway 'Fish and Chip' shop in Quality Street, North Berwick. Mickelson visited on four occasions, and Ernie Els staying in the grand surroundings of the Greywalls Hotel, preferred the taste of a traditional Scottish fish-supper cooked in batter and wrapped in paper. On Monday following the championship, Ernie's caddie Ricky Roberts returned to the shop and presented the staff with a dozen golf balls including some used in the final round, a sports shirt and sweater, and thanked them all for the 'best fish-and-chips' they had ever tasted - high praise.
Keeping it in The Family
[Scott Henderson]   SAM TORRANCE has only missed two Opens in his professional career and after failing to gain one of the qualifying spots at the Scottish Open, had time on his hands so he turned up at Royal Musselburgh just a few miles from Muirfield, to support his son Daniel in the R&A Junior Open. His 13 year-old son was playing in the invitational section of the tournament which also included Stefan Langer the 14 year-old son of Bernhard, and Angel and Frederico Cabrera, son's of Argentinean Angel.

The main event was won by 16-year-old Cian McNamara from Limerick and the runner-up was 16-year-old Da-Sol Chung from Korea who also won the Young Lady Golfer Trophy. Other names for the future were Denmark's Peter Meldgaard, American Paula Creamer, and 15-year-old South African Tanica Van As.

Tiger's Credentials.
AT MUIRFIELD on Monday morning prior to the championship an over enthusiastic security guard refused the assistant head greenkeeper access to the course. Around 6.30am, Tiger Woods was also turned away, this time by a female security guard for not having the correct pass. He said she was just doing her job, and I did not have the proper credentials. Asked if he introduced himself he said "No I didn't say I was Tiger Woods, I just said I won this tournament two years ago and I guess she believed me. Two years is a long time in golf maybe people forget."


STEVE ELKINGTON made himself many friends at Dunbar, where he made it through the qualifying rounds. The former US PGA Champion played four practice rounds at Dunbar as preparation for the qualifying tournament, one with the local pro. Not only was he approachable and had a friendly word for everyone, the Australian performed an informal golf clinic for the club juniors. At the Open, Elkington tied for the lead after 72 holes with Stuart Appleby, Thomas Levet and Ernie Els on 278, six-under par, but failed in the four-hole play-off for the championship.
  Two of the 'Good Guys'
EDUARDO ROMERO following his win at the Scottish Open the previous week arrived in North Berwick and visited the local supermarket with his wife and daughter. Eduardo was so impressed by the helpful checkout assistant who had been disabled after being hit by a car when he was two years old, that the Argentinean returned to the store the next day and offered him a four-day VIP pass to the Open. The young assistant was 'over the moon' and the store manager give him time-off to attend the championship.

Nigerians Go Missing
There are not many Nigerians renowned for their golfing prowess, but 58 of them lodged applications to come over here and take part in the Open qualifying. They were granted visas to enter Britain, but 53 of them failed to turn up at their designated golf course. It now transpires that the R&A were duped by the immigrants using the Open as an excuse to gain entry to the United Kingdom. The following month six Algerian athletes were granted visas to take part in the Elgin marathon but they also did a runner.

The Truth Is Out...
The claret jug presented to Ernie Els on the 18th green at Muirfield was a replica. The original claret jug is kept under lock and key in a display cabinet in the R&A clubhouse. There are in fact six copies of the original claret jug, one in the Museum of Golf at St Andrews, another in the World Golf Hall of Fame in St Augustine, Florida. A third travels the world to exhibitions and the champion is allowed to take a fourth home for a year. He is given a replica to keep which is curiously only two-thirds the size of the original. Since the 1928 all those champion jug-hugging moments photographed for the world on the 18th green are with a replica. The original claret jug made in Edinburgh in 1872 is 52 cm. tall including its base and there are now three tiers beneath it engraved with the names of the 131 champions.

Pretoria Calling
As the claret jug was being presented on Sunday evening the line between Pretoria and London was heating up. President Thabo Mbeki wanted to congratulate Ernie Els personally in his hour of triumph. George Johannes, the South African High Commissioner in London, swung into action with the route-one approach. He bypassed Downing Street and even the R&A.... Get me 'The Scotsman newspaper.' A surprised on-course, reporter took the call. "This is the South African High Commission. President Mbeki would like a word with Ernie Els. Could you put him on the line for us?" Unfortunately, it was too late the South African had packed his bags at the Greywalls Hotel and was already enjoying a surprise party organised by Nick Price.

  [Ernie Els]
Copyright © Ian Rutherford

It's Tough School
At North Berwick there were six places up for grabs at the Open and following the qualifying rounds four players got through while another three tied, and were involved in a play-off for the two remaining places. South African Roger Wessels and Welshman David Park won through while Tom Whitehouse was first reserve. Another six players played-off for the 'fourth reserve' spot when Sweden's Henrik Stenson holed his second, a blind shot to the par-4 first hole. Whitehouse got a place at the Open but Stenson missed out. Wessels and Park survived the halfway cut but Park had a disaster in the final round taking an 11 on the par three 13th after taking eight shots to get out of a bunker - its a hard school.   On Tuesday evening prior to the Open, Davis Love III escaped the hustle and bustle at Muirfield and enjoyed a relaxed game over Gullane No.1. Brad Faxon had an informal round at Dunbar, happily pushing his own trolley, he shot a smooth 68. Californian Scott McCarron was based in North Berwick during the championship. Every night he played the West Links with three clubs under his arm, followed by a couple of local youngsters. Scott finished the championship four shots off the pace. Stuart Appleby's caddie Joey 'Crazy' Damiano, joined fellow loopers Lance Ten Broeck working for Jesper Parnevik and Tom Watson's caddie Bruce Edwards for an afternoon drink in the Quarterdeck in North Berwick.

More stories from the1992 Open when Sam Torrance took his colleagues for a night out.

[West Links]
Paul Mayoh completing his second round with a fine 66. He finished second leading qualifier on 135.

[West Links]
South African Roger Wessels makes a birdie at the second extra hole to qualify for the Open championship. David Park (left) also qualified, and Tom Whitehouse who put his tee shot on to the beach was first reserve.

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