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Gofer Story
I’m thinking, The Open champion

Van de Velde and Harrington had both blown leads by hitting driver, and now Garcia stood on the tee with a one-shot lead and decided to change tactics and go with a long iron. As Van de Velde tried to explain over the years, there are really only two ways to play the 18th, and neither are very attractive. Hit a driver and you risk disaster; hit an iron and the hole plays more like a par-5.

No one listened because they figured he was a crazy Frenchman who wasn’t thinking right. They laughed when he returned weeks later to play the hole with just a putter for a commercial shoot and made 6.

Turned out he knew what he was talking about.

Playing it safe got Garcia a shot from the fairway, but that was about it. He waited impatiently for the group in front of him to putt and then for the bunkers to be raked, and it took a toll.

Garcia hit his next shot into the front left bunker, blasted out and had a 10-footer to win. It hit the left edge of the hole, but somehow didn’t fall.

By the time they returned to 18 in the playoff, Harrington had a 2-shot lead. Underneath the huge greenside bleachers some 500 yards away, his wife and son waited for another hug, and even with a lead they weren’t certain if it would be one of celebration or commiseration. Their answer came when Garcia’s birdie putt slid by and Harrington made a 3-footer for bogey.

This time the hugs began in earnest, and there was even one from Harrington’s wife for Garcia.

“I couldn’t believe it. ... I’m thinking, ‘The Open champion,’ “ Harrington said. “Am I the Open Champion? What does this mean?”

Harrington will have a career to contemplate that.

For now, though, it means the ghost of Carnoustie’s 18th will be


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