The 1999 Open Championship is one of the most memorable tournaments in major championship history. The tournament was Jean Van de Velde’s to lose heading into the 72nd hole, and that’s exactly what he did. The Frenchman triple-bogeyed the final hole and eventually lost to Paul Lawrie in a playoff in what is still known as the most embarrassing collapse in British Open history.
Tiger Woods finished the championship in a tie for seventh place, but that’s not what he’ll remember most about the tournament. During his first round at Carnoustie, Woods was interrupted by a streaker who snuck past security and ran up to him on the 18th green, and the scantily clad woman even planted a kiss on the unsuspecting golfer.
The memorable 1999 Open Championship
Golf fans remember the collapses and blown leads in major championships just as much as they remember the triumphs. Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters. Phil Mickelson at the 2006 U.S. Open. Dustin Johnson at the 2010 U.S. Open.
Jean Van de Velde at the 1996 British Open.
Van de Velde walked up to the 18th hole at Carnoustie on Sunday with a three-shot lead and the Claret Jug seemingly in his hands already. He only needed a double-bogey six to secure his first-ever major championship victory, but the pressure proved to be too much for the Frenchman.
An errant drive to the right left Van de Velde with an awkward approach shot over water. His second shot flailed out to the right again, and his ball ended up in the deep fescue near the grandstands. Then, he chunked his third shot into the infamous Barry Burn in front of the green. Van de Velde took his shoes and socks off to hit his shot out of the burn, but he later decided against it and took a drop instead.
After hitting his fifth shot into the greenside bunker, he got up and down for triple bogey, sending The Open to a three-man playoff. Paul Lawrie, who was 10 strokes back before the day, pulled off the biggest final-round comeback in major championship history to win the tournament.
Tiger Woods’ run-in with a courageous streaker shocked the golf legend
Van de Velde’s collapse will forever be remembered as the most iconic moment from the 1999 British Open, but the bizarre encounter between Woods and a streaker is close behind.
While on the 18th green during his first round at Carnoustie, Woods was lining up a birdie putt when a woman wearing just a black bra and underwear ran past security and onto the green. She approached a shocked Woods and gave him a big hug and even a smooch. After getting what she wanted, the streaker ran off the green and back into the crowd.
Woods was so shaken by the encounter that he missed his birdie putt.
“I heard Ian Woosnam laughing, looked over, and saw some feet,” Woods said after the round. “Luckily, she didn’t have a lot on, because if someone comes out of the stands like that and has a lot of clothing on, you never know what they have in there or what they’re hiding behind their back.
“She gave me a hug and a quick kiss, but I wasn’t worried. I knew she wasn’t hiding anything. She didn’t have a whole lot on, so I guess I assumed it was a pretty benign situation.”
You can watch the hilarious video of the encounter here.
Who was the courageous streaker?
Soon after the bizarre incident, the streaker was revealed to be Yvonne Robb, a 20-year-old exotic dancer from Arbroath, Scotland. She was later fined 100 pounds for the incident, and she even had some pesky legal issues to deal with.
According to The Herald, “She pleaded not guilty to charges of conducting herself in a disorderly manner, stripping to her underwear, climbing a barrier fence, running onto the playing surface, taking hold of a player and breaching the peace on Carnoustie Links on July 15.”
“It was the best kiss I ever had. It was worth it,” Robb later said. “I just love Tiger. I’ll have to surprise you all again next year.”
Fortunately for Woods (or unfortunately?), security kept Robb off the course the following year, and he went on to win his first Open Championship at St. Andrews in 2000.