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Max Faulkner’s peacocking at 1951 Open ruffled rivals’ feathers

Max Faulkner’s peacocking at 1951 Open ruffled rivals’ feathers

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Max Faulkner’s peacocking at 1951 Open ruffled rivals’ feathers

Max Faulkner’s supreme peacocking would not even ruffle the odd feather today, but back in 1951 that braggadocio had his foes tearing out their hair.

The last man to win The Open at Royal Portrush, Faulkner dressed in bold, brash colours, boasting of his abilities in a fashion deemed disruptive for the times.

Englishman Faulkner took up boxing in the RAF during World War Two, with a perforated ear drum service wound altering his outlook.

Max Faulkner
Max Faulkner who won the only other Open at Royal Portrush (AP Images)

By the time he prevailed in that 1951 Open in Northern Ireland, Faulkner cared little for public opinion, or how his antics were received.

His pinks and purples would not even stretch a seam in the modern game, but caused controversy when he landed his solitary major title.

Post-war Britain simply did not know how to respond to Faulkner’s ever-rising confidence, especially his famed autograph en route to that Open triumph.

Midway through the tournament, Faulker penned his moniker for a young fan, who told him he would lift the claret jug.

So he added the postscript Open champion 1951, in an outrageous flourish that won him few friends on the links.

“I asked him for a pen, I put ‘Max Faulkner, Open Champion 1951’, and then looked at it before giving it back,” said Faulkner.

“As I walked to the tee it kept appearing in front of me: ‘Open champion 1951’.

“It certainly looked good.”

The Open Championship Preview Package
Max Faulkner (back) with son-in-law Brian Barnes (front), who won the Senior British Open in 1995 (Martin McCullough/PA)

So the more he thought about his own tagline, trying it on for size, the more comfortable he became in wearing the title.

When by rights he ought to have been hoisted by his own petard, instead that cocky prediction simply drove him home.

His victory frustrated the establishment, but stood as the only Open victory for a Brit between Henry Cotton in 1948 and Tony Jacklin in 1969.

How the home faithful would love the likes of Rory McIlroy to storm home, and in quite such entertaining fashion this week.

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