Almost every sport has its own ‘Walter Mitty’.
Ski-jumping had Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. Swimming had Eric ‘The Eel’ Moussambani Malonga. And who can forget the Jamaica national bobsleigh team that competed at the 1988 Winter Olympics?
Golf? Golf had Maurice Flitcroft.
The crane operator from Barrow-in-Furness shot to prominence when he attempted to qualify for the 1976 Open despite having never played a round of golf before in his life.
After declaring himself to be a professional in order to circumnavigate the issue of him not having a handicap, Flitcroft returned a score of 121 in qualifying – the highest 18-hole score in championship history.
When the rules were changed to prevent Flitcroft from entering again, he entered Open qualifying and other golf competitions under a variety of pseudonyms, such as Gene Paycheki, Gerald Hoppy and James Beau Jolley.
He died in 2007 and, in 2010, was the subject of a biography by Scott Murray and Simon Farnaby entitled “The Phantom of the Open”.
That book has now been turned into a film starring Oscar-winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, Wolf Hall) – and if the trailer is anything to go by, it promises to be unmissable.
Take a look…
Directed by Craig Roberts, the film also stars Golden Globe-winning actress Sally Hawkins (All Or Nothing, Vera Lake, Happy-Go-Lucky) and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Amazing Spider-Man).
It is set to hit UK cinemas on November 5, 2021, following its world premiere at the London Film Festival.