Fake it til you make it? Or, in the case of one man, fake it and use disguises to gatecrash several Open qualifiers when you get banned from one event.
In 1976, crane operator and amateur golfer Maurice Flitcroft achieved his late-in-life goal of participating in the British Open Golf Championship with no background in the game. His life story, “The Phantom of the Open”, is now a movie that follows his journey.
Inspired by a glimpse of golf he’d caught on TV, Golf.com reports that Flitcroft picked up a set of clubs and taught himself to play on a nearby beach. The prankster was able to register for the qualifier by using a loophole that no one caught on to — he registered as a pro and no one checked.
As portrayed by English actor Mark Rylance, the movie follows Flitcroft’s life as a devoted family man and his journey for more adventure while he remains unburdened by resentments or regrets.
Golf.com reports that Flitcroft went on to gatecrash several other Open qualifiers over the years, playing under pseudonyms and in disguises, eventually labeled a hero billed affectionately by the press as the “world’s worst golfer.”
Flitcroft’s life story was published in the form of a book by Simon Farnaby, in collaboration with the journalist Scott Murray, in 2010.
Farnaby turned the “The Phantom of the Open” book into a screenplay, which became a movie with the same name.
“[Flitcroft] was on his own, with no one to compare himself to,” Farnaby told Golf.com. “So, in the beginning, he really did think he’s good enough. Then he gets in the qualifier, and he realizes that he isn’t. If nothing else had happened — if the R&A hadn’t banned him — I think that probably would have been it for him in qualifiers. But then they banned him, and he got his back up. He felt he had been wronged. He’d fallen in love with golf, and they were trying to take it away. He wasn’t going to just accept it.”
Golf.com reports that “Phantom of the Opera” opens in New York and Los Angeles on June 3, and in 30 additional markets the following week. By June 17, it is scheduled to be in theaters everywhere.
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