Flamboyant Faulkner – the & # 039; peacock & # 039; who won the last Portrush Open

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Crowd discovered every room they could see Max Faulkner's third shot at the 1951 Open

When the winner of this year's Open picks up the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush, chances are that they will look back on one shot, one moment of sparkle or excessive luck, separating them from the field.

In 1951, the last time the Dunluce Left tournament was played, there was just such a moment.

One that would make Max Faulkner a household name and not just a golfer who is known for his flamboyant clothing as his undisputed talent.

His unbelieving playmate called it "the biggest shot I've ever seen" but Faulkner & # 39; s had four wood from next to a fence outside the fence that wasn't in the heart of Royal Portrush & # 39; s 16th was cut green, Anthony Cerda could be the first Argentinian to win one of the four majors of golf.

In the month that he would celebrate his 35th birthday, Max Faulkner closed the biggest prize of all.

But it could have been so different.

Golf in th e genes

As the oldest son of a professional golfer, it was perhaps no surprise that the young Max would follow in the paternal spike marks.

Born in Bexhill-on-Sea in southeast England, he excelled in various sports, but eventually went for golf and became an assistant to his father Gus.

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Media caption The sons and son-in-law of Max Faulkner remember how he played in 1951.

He once won a junior tournament with 15 shots and made his mark during the 1930s, notably he finished third in the Irish Open at Royal Portrush at the age of 21 – an experience he would gain 14 years later .

But just like with so many young men, Max's best years were probably lost due to the war.

He barely left a club between 1939 and 1945, instead he became a boxing champion and sharpened the granite physique that drove his skate

An epic war time

was stationed in Liverpool as an instructor for physical training of the Royal Air Force, landed a doodlebug near Max, perforated his eardrums and led to a spell in hospital.

The war would also put family heartache in a traffic accident with the loss of his younger brother Frank – both events made the future champion more than he would realize.

Max remembered: "Every morning the nurses brought beautiful flowers into the ward and every night they took them out.

" It was so gray without those flowers and I thought: & # 39; If I ever come out of this bloody war, I'm going to wear some colors. & # 39; "

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Peter Dazeley

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Faulkner cut a line on the golf course in his colorful clothing

As good as his word, he returned to the tournament and played a riot of glorious technicolor – pink, yellow and peacock blues, which made him stand out at a time when professional golfers were expected to know their place and amateurs the "gentlemen" of the game were

But even in his greatest triumph there were those who saw fit to snipe.

Reporting on his Open victory, Leonard Crawley wrote in The Daily Telegraph: "Faulkner is very tense. He has tried to hide this very human weakness by dressing in fake colors and being fooled."

A pastel premonition

Not that the neat dandy who lit up the left long before Ian Poulter gave a damn.

By the time he rocked up and down in his pastel shades and bicoloured shoes at Royal Portrush, Max realized the potential that was limited by the war and had a premonition.

"When I arrived, I knew something great was about to happen. All night I seemed to live in a different world than everyone else," he said.

"The Open is a tournament that cannot be won out of the blue. In 1949 I was going through one round and in 1950 I was one behind it."

In 1951, an inscrutable condemnation and a piping hot putter took the title when he himself declared: "It was almost laughable. Wherever I was, I could do nothing but put it in the hole."

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Faulkner was handed the Claret Jug in 1951 and later said it was "all I ever wanted"

His putting showcase was enough to gain a six-fold lead in the final round on Friday afternoon and led to an ill-considered temptation of fate that he fortunately didn't regret.

Lost in his own thoughts as he prepared to tap, a young boy asked Max to sign his ball.

Initially he hesitated when he said he would win. I asked him for a pen, I put & # 39; Max Faulkner Open Champion 1951 & # 39; and looked at it before he gave it back.

"While walking to the tee, it kept appearing before me: & # 39; Open Champion 1951. Open champion 1951. & # 39;

" It certainly looked good. "

Three nerve-racking hours later, what he had written was etched on the Claret Jug.

" It was everything I ever wanted, the Open meant everything to me ", reflected Max.

Fed by tea and the cigarettes he smoked all his life, Max could still play sick nine holes in 36 strokes until a few years before his death at the age of 88 in 2005.

A more than solid career yielded 19 professional titles and five Ryder Cup appearances, but he would never again taste great glory after 1951.

Indeed, after missing a short putt during the next annual championship at Royal Lytham, he knew he would never win again.

"Somewhere was the desire disappeared. "

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