Jean van de Velde was born on this day in 1966. A French professional golfer who is known mainly for his dramatic loss at The Open Championship in 1999.
Van de Velde was born in Mont-de-Marsan, Landes, France. He turned professional in 1987 and his rookie season on the European Tour was 1989. His first European Tour win was the 1993 Roma Masters. He has twice finished in the top twenty of the Order of Merit. He played on the PGA Tour in 2000 and 2001.
Van de Velde nearly achieved an upset victory at the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie, when he was the clear leader playing the closing holes. He arrived at the 18th tee needing only a double bogey six to become the first Frenchman since 1907 to win the tournament. He had played error-free golf for much of the week and birdied the 18th hole in two prior rounds.
Despite a three-shot lead, Van de Velde chose to use his driver off the tee, and proceeded to drive the ball to the right of the burn and was lucky to find land. Rather than laying up and hitting the green with his third, Van de Velde decided to go for the green with his second shot. His shot drifted right, ricocheted backwards off the railings of the grandstands by the side of the green, landed on top of the stone wall of the Barry Burn and then bounced fifty yards backwards into knee-deep rough.
On his third shot, Van de Velde’s club got tangled in the rough on his downswing, and his ball flew into the Barry Burn. He removed his shoes and socks and gingerly stepped through shin-deep water as he debated whether to try to hit his ball out of the Barry Burn, which guards the 18th green. Ultimately, he took a drop and proceeded to hit his fifth shot into the greenside bunker. Van de Velde blasted to within six feet from the hole, and made the putt for a triple-bogey seven, dropping him into a three-way playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie. Lawrie would eventually triumph in the playoff.