A new golf film is being made to be released this year called The Phantom of The Open. It is about the legendary Maurice Flitcroft, pictured with Seve.
Long before Eddie The Eagle Edwards and the Jamaican Olympic Bobsleigh team this man led the way, In 1976 Flitcroft, a chain smoking crane driver from Barrow-In-Furness, decided to enter the qualifier for the Open Championship. He had bought a mail order half set of clubs and plastic shoes and taught himself to play from a Peter Alliss instruction book borrowed from the library. He got himself banned from several local clubs for sneaking on to practice without paying. Having seen The Open on television, he applied to enter the Qualifier only to find out as an amateur he needed to present an official handicap. So he declared himself professional.
He shot a 49 over par 121 and caught the interest not only of the R&A but the world’s media who contacted his mother. When she asked reporters if he had won the Open she was told his score and replied “well, everyone’s got to start somewhere”.
The R &A changed the entry rules but this didn’t deter him. He continued with a cat and mouse game of disguises and false identities. One of his previous employments had been in showbusiness and his theatrical inclinations found an outlet trying to outwit the golf officials. He returned in 1984 as Gerald Hoppy, a pro from Switzerland – and was chased off after two holes, another year as James Beau Jolly before his entry was queried and in 1990 as a professional called Paychecki. He managed to shoot 63 – for nine holes – before he was escorted off and banned from the sport.
He told reporters “I was looking to find fame and fortune, but only achieved one of the two”.