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Another amusing story tells of a critical female caddie who carried Harry Vardon’s bag in the French Open about twenty-five years earlier. His second shot at one hole put the ball close to the pin and Vardon turned to his caddie and said: “A good one”. He was not amused when she replied, “Damn fluke”, but saw the joke when he realised that these were the only English words she knew. She had obviously been well tutored by some of his fellow competitors, probably his brother Tom, who spoke French and the great old time Scottish pro and inveterate practical joker - ‘Andra’ Kirkaldy.

In the first round I played with a very excitable little Frenchman. He couldn’t speak any English but that did not stop him jabbering away in French for most of the round. He was a dreadful player and got worse as the round progressed. Periodically he would wander away to the other side of the fairway and rummage in his bag and after a while I became curious and followed to see what he was doing. Believe it or not he was taking swigs from a bottle of wine and, as the bottle got lower, his temperature got higher and so did his scores. Then the clubs started to fly. He eventually finished the round with half his clubs littered around the course, the bottle empty and “No return” against his name on the scoreboard. Was I glad to see the back of him! I was happy with my 70 in the circumstances, which was good enough for the joint lead.

Arthur Havers and Marcelle Dallemange[Bert’s tee shot at the short 3rd buried in the soft putting surface and he had to take a niblick to extract the ball from its plugged lie on the green]. A fresh draw was made for the second round and I had a better playing partner. I posted a 69 to stay joint leader with the holder, Arthur Lacey, and Auguste Boyer of Nice. I shot 71 and was clear in the lead on 210, with the two best players in France, Boyer and Marcel Dallemagne (St Germain), joint second on 213. My last round contained some anxious moments. A Visit to the woods on one hole could have run up a 7 or 8, but I extricated myself and found the green with my fourth shot, then holed a ‘tram ride’ putt to escape with a five. Later in the round I took five at a short hole, after finding two bunkers. My playing partner and nearest challenger, Boyer, holed from about ten yards for a two and picked up three shots. 

Phillip Golding with the French Open Trophy
When I came to the last hole I had restored a three-shot cushion and victory was mine – barring complete disaster, but the 18th invited disaster. It was nearly 500 yards in length, with a ravine across the fairway about 40-50 yards short of the green, which in those days was filled with gorse, bracken and all kinds of trouble. I took the brassie (2-wood) and found the middle of the green for a comfortable birdie four. I walked off the green virtually certain to be French Open champion, but instead of congratulations I received a severe telling off from the old hand - George Duncan, winner of the first French Open to be played on the Chantilly course in 1913, [in which George Gadd had played]. He told me that I had taken a stupid risk by going for the green and could have thrown the championship away if I had “nobbed” my brassie into the ravine. He was right of course, but I was so keyed up I never even thought of playing safe and like a certain Frenchman in our Open at Carnoustie 66 years later, I went for it! Fortunately, unlike Van de Velde, I pulled it off. My 73 for a total of 283 gave me a three-shot victory over the French pair and, at the age of twenty-four, I was French Open Champion. I received the trophy without understanding a word of the presentation speech. It was a magnificent work of art standing two feet high, but when I was told that it would cost me £30 in import duty to bring it back to England, I decided to leave it where it was. The prize money was Ff. 9000 (app £92); seventy years later when another Englishman, Philip Golding, won the 2003 championship, he received his prize in Euros - worth over £290,000.

C’ést la vie!