Memories of 1999 Open range from pure to painful
The 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie was nothing if not memorable. As Carnoustie prepares to host again, players from Phil Mickelson to Billy Andrade to Fred Funk recall their experiences during a 1999 Open that remains unforgettable.
Editor's note: From pinched-in fairways to aching teeth, PGA TOUR players have vivid memories of the 1999 British Open. Here are some of them.
Compiled by Helen Ross
Fred Funk was 1 under and tied for the lead through his first five holes at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. He finished the day with an 82, and totally frustrated, decided to withdraw.
"The gods penalized me by taking me 68 hours to get home with two flight cancellations," Funk recalled. "I watched tee times go by on Friday while I was in the Delta Crown Room, and I started drinking heavily. Then the second day, I was still in the Crown Room and watching the tee times go by."
Funk went to Scotland that year knowing that Carnoustie was a difficult course. When it turned into "Carnasty," though, with those narrow landing areas and hip-high rough, Funk had enough.
"It was ridiculous last time," Funk said. "I was just so upset with going over there hearing it was a great golf course but a hard golf course. To me, from what I remember, you can't see a lot of your landing areas and the guy had this rough that was this high right off the edge, there's nowhere to miss it. And you didn't have to miss it by much to be dead.
"I said, 'I didn't come over here for this.' I just said, 'I'm out.' And the average score that day was 80 or 81. I wasn't that far out of it."
In 2004, Funk skipped the Open and played in the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. His second-place finish there landed him on the U.S. Presidents Cup team. He'd like a repeat performance this year.
"That's my goal this year," said the 51-year-old Funk, who has won on both the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour in 2007. "I'm going to go to Milwaukee and I play well there, and (it's) good golf course for me. So instead of making the long journey over there (to Scotland) I'm going to stay over here and support the Milwaukee Open and try to make it another way, a roundabout way."
Stuart Appleby remembers getting up at midnight back home in Australia to watch the Open Championship. He says it was the longest TV coverage of the four majors and "certainly the most boring coverage to watch. Just watching a seagull stand by a bunker or something like that for 30 or 40 seconds puts you back to bed at three in the morning."
At the same time, Greg Norman's success made it must-see TV for the Australians. Like his countryman, Appleby has come close, too -- reaching a playoff with Ernie Els, Thomas Levet and Steve Elkington in 2002 that the South African ended up winning.
He didn't fare quite as well in 1999 at Carnoustie, though, shooting 78-81 to miss the cut. Appleby is looking forward to going back, though.
"I've heard it's in great shape," he said. "I've heard it's nothing like what it was. That's pretty obvious. That was a big faux pas there (making the course set-up so difficult). They made a hell of a mistake.
"I think we'll have a great championship golf course. I have no doubts about that. I just hope it's nice and dry and firm. I hope we don't get too much rain. I've seen that Wimbledon is pretty wet. I don't know if it's extending north, the rain. I would like to get it nice and firm and fast. That's the way they all should be."
Billy Andrade has vivid memories of Carnoustie, but not because of the challenging golf course.
Just before he was supposed to fly to Scotland in 1999, Andrade started having a toothache. He was home in Rhode Island, and he went to a new dentist, who filed the tooth down, told Andrade he had a biting problem and said not to worry.
As soon as Andrade got to Carnoustie, though, the pain in his mouth began to worsen. Still, he managed a 75 in the first round and was tied for 13th place. Then, the situation began to deteriorate.
"Second day, I couldn't put my socks on before I teed off at 1:45," Andrade recalled. "At 1 o'clock I was in a doctor's office in downtown Carnoustie. I was begging the guy to shoot me up with Novocaine so I could go play. And I parred the first four. And on No. 5 tee, the Novocaine wore off, and I was done."
Andrade went on to shoot an 84, which was his highest ever as a pro. The infection was so bad Andrade said he couldn't even move his neck. His wife Jody met some dentists on the golf course, though, and they took him to their offices in St. Andrews when he was done around 7:00 that night.
"I had two hours of surgery to get the tooth out to do a root canal to get me so I could fly back home to Rhode Island," Andrade said. In fact, the dentist said that had he waited another hour the infection would have been so severe he wouldn't have been about to leave the country for another week or so.
"Make a long story short, I'd love to go back without a bad tooth, and I think I can do pretty well over there," Andrade said. "So, yes, I would love to go back. I haven't played a major this year, so I think all of us, all players that play out here want to play in the biggest tournaments. So it would be nice."
Greg Owen was 27 in 1999 when he played in his first Open Championship. The young Englishman shot 79-81 that year and missed the cut, but his memories of the venue aren't all bad.
"Oohh, my first British Open," Owen said, smiling. "It was a brutal test. ? I remember standing on that tee and they had the big grandstand on the right and they had the grandstand on the left of the first tee, and I was just thinking, 'Please don't kill anybody on this tee.'
"It was a great experience. I've had a few more since then, and it's a wonderful golf course. I think personally it's the best golf course there for the Open. And I just hope they just let the guys play, and set it up for an Open, but don't make it ridiculous. Just let them play, and if they play well, so let them make some birdies. Isn't that the name of the game? So many of these golf courses are tricked up every week, just let good golf get rewarded."
Phil Mickelson shot 79-76 at Carnoustie in 1999 and missed the cut, one of just two early exits he's made in 12 Open Championships.
"I've kind of suppressed those memories," Mickelson said. "I'm looking forward to getting back and hopefully having the Carnoustie and everyone knows and loves."
The three-time major champion has only played four competitive rounds in two tournaments since injuring his wrist, including a missed cut at the AT&T National. So he's headed the United Kingdom early to play in the Barclays Scottish Open.
Like his peers, Jim Furyk wasn't enamored of the setup in 1999, but he definitely is a fan of Carnoustie. He says he "has a lot of respect" for the course and expects to see a very different course this year.
"I just remember the fairways being very narrow and we were hitting into a lot of crosswinds," Furyk said. "You could hit pretty good shots, hit in the fairway, take a kick and all of a sudden you would be out in the rough somewhere. It was very difficult to get the ball in play off the tee.
"I really like the golf course. I wasn't extremely fond of the set-up, which most players I think would agree with, and that's why you heard a lot of the complaining. But you know, I assume that that will probably change this year, but the golf course itself was very, very good, and however it's set up this year, just go out and try to figure out how to get it around as best I can.
"It's a very difficult golf course but it's a good golf course."