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Royal and Ancient: Blood, Sweat, and Fear at the British Open by [Sampson, Curt]
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Royal and Ancient: Blood, Sweat, and Fear at the British Open Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Length: 272 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

No one who saw it will likely forget French golfer Jean Van de Velde's catastrophe at Carnoustie on the 72nd hole of the 1999 British Open. "Such theater!" writes Ben Hogan biographer Curt Sampson in Royal and Ancient, his stunning chronicle of the event. "Character is destiny, the ancient Greeks believed. And to many people--at Carnoustie and elsewhere, then and now--Van de Velde's unfolding disaster looked like an unmistakable expression of French style: cavalier, ironic, and more concerned with style than substance. He seemed to be treating the beloved Jug like a chamber pot." In one golf hole, what had been a tour de force devolved into a tour de farce. What writer could ask for more?

Not Sampson, who deftly uses Carnoustie as a prism to refract the history of golf's most storied tournament. Weaving back and forth through time, Royal and Ancient links the 1999 champion--playoff winner Paul Lawrie--to champions past, from the first--Willie Park in 1860--to Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and to those such as Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Tom Watson who've conquered the wind-wracked Carnoustie track before him. In his detailed recounting of '99 affair, Sampson certainly reports on the shots, but goes well beyond them into the minds of such competitors as veteran Steve Elkington; Zane Scotland, the youngest qualifier ever; and even John Philp, Carnoustie's proud, beleaguered superintendent, who constantly battled the elements and carping of the players and the press. Fittingly, the last word goes to Van de Velde, a fine golfer who chose the one moment the world was watching to come utterly undone. "It took a lot of bad luck for me to lose," he tells Sampson months after the tournament. "When I think about it now, I'm a little nostalgic.... It's not like I burn emotionally... but... I left more over there than I expected." Sampson brings it, and a good deal more, back for us. --Jeff Silverman

From Publishers Weekly

The saving grace of this disappointing work comes near the end, when Sampson finally gets around to describing the last round of the British Open held at Scotland's Carnoustie links course in 1999. In one of the most stunning collapses in a major golf tournament, the unknown Frenchman Jean Van de Velde squandered a three-stoke lead on the last hole, forcing a playoff with Paul Lawrie and Justine Leonard, which Lawrie ultimately won. Van de Velde didn't merely lose the three-stroke lead, he blew itAblasting an ill-advised drive into an adjourning fairway, hitting a second shot that bounced off the bleachers into Carnoustie's impossibly long rough and then bopping a third shot directly in the burn guarding the green. Van de Velde's play on the 72nd hole at the Open will undoubtedly be one of the most analyzed in golf history, and Sampson gives an insightful and humorous account. Unfortunately, the balance of the book is a jumbled story of past British Opens and the men who competed in them. Sampson (The Masters) seems to have run into bad luck when his original plan of incorporating the rounds of Steve Elkington, Andrew Magee and Clark Dennis into the fabric of the 1999 Open fell apart when Dennis failed to qualify for the event and both Magee and Elkington missed the cut. In scrambling to fill the void, the wit and flair Sampson brings to bear at the end of the story are largely missing from the rest of the book.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 911 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1 edition (July 6, 2011)
  • Publication Date: July 6, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00589AYOA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,936 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Only the very best writers can sustain drama when they're recounting events whose outcome is already well-known--and who isn't aware of Jean Van de Veld's slow-motion deflation on the final hole at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie, the culminating event in Curt Sampson's splendid new book, Royal and Ancient? Sampson's a wonderful phrase-maker-writing of Tiger's "adhesive gallery" is a good example-with an ample feeling for the game and the people who make it interesting, from the tournament players at the forefront to the deeply sequestered greenkeepers, such as Carnoustie's John Philp, who tried to defend the old links against the assaults of a generation of golf pros who regard birdies as a birthright. Sampson's written other good books, but this one is superb.
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Format: Hardcover
Curt Sampson has been my favorite golf writer for several years now, ever since Hogan, which was just about the best golf biography I've ever read. His next book, The Masters, was excellent too. This one is great--plenty of fascinating history of the most prestigious golf tournament ever, plus an account of last year's unbelievable Open, which may have been the toughest major ever played, with probably the most fantastic finish ever. Must reading for any golfer.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
ROYAL AND ANCIENT, story of the 1999 Open championship with some Open background, is not my first Curt Sampson read.

I have also digested with much joy:

THE LOST MASTERS, the story of the controversial 1968 Masters championship.

and

THE ETERNAL SUMMER, the story of the hard-fought 1960 season.

I was lucky to read MASTERS and SUMMER in that order. MASTERS is a slanted but colorful and enjoyable piece of work. I was pumped for more Sampson and got my wish. SUMMER is one of the best golf history books ever written, and I have read most of them; period.

So coming off SUMMER, you can imagine that I am expecting another great piece of golf-history work in ROYAL. In the case of ROYAL, however, I would have settled for decent.

Reading ROYAL is like eating sawdust. Sampson takes us over several acres of previously plowed fields (Old Tommy, Young Tommy, the greens with two holes, the rail road, the warm beer, etc.). And it never gets better. I just gave you the highlights. The modern characters are largely boring and the characterizations do nothing to wake them up.

Advantage any chance you get to read MASTERS. Whether you are a fan of the institution or skeptical, it is an interesting read and entertaining.

Leap at any opportunity to read SUMMER. It is a top-drawer treatment of 1960's events.

If you get a chance to read ROYAL, pass it up. Except for Open fanatics, I cannot imagine anyone liking this book. But the fanatics might, for that matter; people wonder how I can enjoy so many endless editions of golf history.
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Format: Hardcover
Did Curt Sampson come to Carnoustie, Scotland in 1999 expecting to turn the British Open upside-down like he did Augusta National in "The Masters?" If so, he was beaten to the punch by a genial Frenchman named Jean Van de Velde who gave golf's signature event its wackiest finish ever.

I didn't like "The Masters" much; its agenda was a little harsh. But "Royal And Ancient" sees Sampson approach his topic with more respect, and get better results. He takes in the history of the Open, champions from Old Tom Morris to young Tom Watson, the sound of Carnoustie's winds whipping through the media tents and the dry fescue, and the separate pilgrimages three American golfers take for the big event.

"Royal And Ancient" is scattershot in many ways; none of the three golfers Sampson spotlights make the cut. He spends a good deal of time honing his Dan Jenkins aspirations, detailing the misadventures of a tour hanger-on who doesn't merit the print. Sampson wrote a famous bio on Ben Hogan, and there are times Sampson seems in danger of writing another here.

But after a slow beginning Sampson puts you right at the center of things, analyzes expectations against results and giving a thorough sense of what a British Open entails by using this particular year's edition as a case study. He rambles some, but he tells some fun stories and quotes some interesting people.

The big controversy at Carnoustie most of the week was the condition of the course, with the rough grown so high players could not try to advance the ball if it went off the fairway. A writer likens it to asking basketball players to play with a medicine ball. Meanwhile, course superintendent John Philp argues the game is supposed to be a test of skill and not a birdie racket.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sampson for me is the consummate golf writer; clever, knows his game and does it all creatively. Witness the way he puts together this chronicle of The Open. Starts with the Morris' and their famed dominance of early golf, then the interest of England and the rest.
Interwoven here are the rest of glorious Open history-Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, Watson, and Hogan. Then the tie with Carnoustie and the wee little iceman.
Boy this author can captivate you while getting it all down. This flows and ebbs till it ends up at the Burn and that 18th. Never Compromise --- great putting with new found friend--- never compromise style -- must go for it!
This is like author's other books (try them out, especially Hogan and Eternal Summer and Masters, they're favorites) this was just excellent reading to the end.
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