"Go Down Swinging" to Recount Golf's Most Epic Collapse; Monday, July 9 at 9 p.m. ET

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Stylized Documentary Goes Shot-by-Shot Revisiting 72nd Hole via First-Hand Witnesses, Including Van de Velde

“There’s no event that comes close to the theatre, the bad luck, the comedy, the sadness, but also within it – the triumph – in one place.” – Mike Tirico

VIDEO: Go Down Swinging Trailer

As sports fans prepare to watch NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the world’s best golfers taking on Carnoustie Golf Links at The Open next month, Golf Channel will showcase its latest Golf Films project, Go Down Swinging: ’99 Open at Carnoustie, highlighting one of the most unforgettable collapses ever in major championship golf. The film will revisit the memorable misfortune and theatrics of The 1999 Open, when Jean van de Velde surrendered what seemed like inevitable victory with a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole of golf’s original championship.

First-hand accounts – including Van de Velde’s – reflecting on the outcome nearly 20 years later will lead viewers through the stylized documentary, going shot-by-shot to recap the unfathomable developments that played out on the 18th hole during Sunday’s final round. Go Down Swinging will premiere on Monday, July 9 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel, presented by Loch Lomond single malt scotch whisky with limited commercial interruption.

“I aimed three yards right of the flag and thought if you’re in the bunker, the game is over.

Even if you miss in the grand stand, the game is over. How often do you see a ball [bounce

off the railing and] do what it did?” – Jean van de Velde on his 2nd shot on the 72nd hole

The film blends the original broadcast footage and blunt commentary reacting to the meltdown (ESPN’s Tirico, Curtis Strange, Bob Rosburg, Steve Melnyk, and the BBC’s Peter Alliss, Alex Hay) with retrospect interviews recounting in vivid detail how improbable a finish it was, and how unbelievable it still remains. In addition to Van de Velde, other subjects interviewed for Go Down Swinging include Van de Velde’s caddie, Christophe Angiolini, along with eventual winner Paul Lawrie, Justin Leonard (T-2nd), Alliss, Tirico, and on-site golf media.

Throughout the film, stylized transitions from one Van de Velde shot to the next feature Go Down Swinging’s acting narrator – comedian Lenny Clarke (Rescue Me) – who portrays a bartender serving a customer unfamiliar with The 1999 Open, which is re-airing on the TV behind the bar. The film also offers greater context on Carnoustie’s brutally difficult conditions in ‘99, Van de Velde’s standing as a relative unknown entering the week, and Lawrie’s improbable comeback despite facing a 10-shot deficit going into the final round.

“1999 was the first Open I’d ever covered and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since,” said Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner, a co-producer and writer of the film. “It was sad and funny and heroic and still to this day, hard to fathom.”

Go Down Swinging is being produced by Golf Films, led by 13-time Emmy Award-winning coordinating producer Israel DeHerrera, who has served as the lead producer for several critically acclaimed projects, including the three-part Arnie (2014) and Jack (2017) films on Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Lerner returns as a co-producer and writer alongside DeHerrera following his contributions in the same role for Summer of ’76 (2017), recounting The 1976 Open at Royal Birkdale. Other award-winning projects produced by Golf Films include Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys, executive produced by Rickie Fowler; the Emmy-nominated Payne (2014), on the late Payne Stewart; Arnie & Me (2015), a follow-up, fourth installment of Arnie; ’86 (2016), a chronicle of Nicklaus’ final major championship win at the 1986 Masters that aired to coincide with the 30th anniversary of his iconic win; and Ben Crenshaw: A Walk Through Augusta (2015), on the two-time Masters champion’s special relationship with the tournament.

 

VOICES CONTRIBUTING TO GO DOWN SWINGING:           

 

INSIDE THE ROPES

Jean van de Velde

  • “If I had one shot to do different, it would be the third one.”

Christophe Angiolini, Van de Velde’s caddie at ’99 Open

  • “If I were in the same situation again, I would tell him to hit an iron off the tee.”

Paul Lawrie, 1999 Open champion

  • “No matter what happened, and the way it happened, my name is on [the Claret Jug].”

Justin Leonard, T-2nd at ’99 Open

  • “When he [got to the tee to start the playoff] I just wanted to give the guy a hug.”

John Philp, former greenskeeper at Carnoustie Golf Links

  • “The course was the same for everybody, but I admit it was very tough.”

Jesper Parnevik, T-10th at ’99 Open

  • “1999 was set up like the toughest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Lee Janzen, 70th at ’99 Open

  • “If you could go without making double in a practice round it was $100. Nobody did it.”

 

OUTSIDE THE ROPES

Peter Alliss, play-by-play host on BBC live broadcast at ’99 Open

  • “I didn’t know what to say. Wipe him down, give him a large brandy for goodness sake.”

Mike Tirico, play-by-play host on ABC/ESPN live broadcast at ’99 Open (NBC Sports)

  • “I was more honest than I’d ever been on the air, and I think it’s because I felt his pain.”

Jimmy Roberts, reporter on ABC/ESPN live broadcast at ’99 Open (NBC Sports)

  • “It was a complete cataclysmic disaster.”

John Hopkins, former golf correspondent, The Times – U.K. (Global Golf Post)

  • “He was doing something that would be described forever more as that of a showman.”

Jaime Diaz, former editor-in-chief, Golf World (Golf Channel)

  • “I don’t think he choked. I think he got one of the worst breaks in the history of golf.”

Jack Graham, producer on ABC/ESPN live broadcast at ’99 Open (Golf Channel)

  • “That 40 minutes was about as stunning as anything I have ever been a part of.”

Bill Fields, former senior editor, Golf World

  • “Most people, they want to look at the wreck. They want to see what happened.”

Lenny Clarke, (comedian), acting narrator of Go Down Swinging

  • “He’s probably more famous for losing than if he had won. He handled it like a champ.”

Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post

  • “I didn’t write Lawrie’s name down once the entire week, or look at him on a tee sheet.”

Iain Carter, golf correspondent, BBC

  • “Jean van de Velde blew up on the last, but Paul Lawrie won that Open.”

Rich Lerner, host, Golf Channel

  • “As Lawrie put the finishing touches on his brilliant round, he was an afterthought.”

Ron Sirak, former senior writer, Golf Digest

  • “Lawrie’s round that day was like shooting 60 at Oakmont.”