Golf: 1975 Open became hell, but I've got no regrets, recounts David Huish

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THIRTY years after leading The Open with Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in hot pursuit, David Huish has revealed how the experience turned from a dream into a nightmare.

After qualifying for the 1975 event at Carnoustie, the North Berwick club professional shot rounds of 67 and 69 to lead Watson, Peter Oosterhuis and Bernard Gallacher by two strokes, with Nicklaus and other big names even further behind.

"I'd had a good year, winning the Scottish PGA Championship, but what happened in The Open was a whole new ball game to me," admitted Huish, below, who is about to bring down the curtain on his 42-year spell at the East Lothian club.

"I finished my second round in the middle of afternoon and, after checking my scorecard, I was taken into the press tent, where I was asked go through all the shots I'd played, etc.

"I did a whole host of TV and radio interviews after that and didn't have either experience or will to say I had to leave. Some players these days would probably have given the press two minutes and then have been off.

"I was staying at The Scores Hotel in St Andrews and didn't get back there until about 9.00pm. As I got out of my car, I noticed a group of photographers hanging about and, on discovering they were waiting for me, I thought 'oh no!'

"I was sprayed with champagne but not a single drop touched my lips. I sent it to the kitchen and had a Coca-Cola.

"You probably won't be surprised to hear that I didn't exactly have the best sleep ever that night and, after getting up early the next morning, I found myself with time on my hands as I wasn't teeing off until the afternoon and I decided I'd go up into the town, buy a paper and have a wander to help me relax. But the photographers were there waiting for me again, outside the hotel and, to be honest, I found all the attention a bit embarrassing.

"It was a nightmare and, after eventually getting my newspaper, I went back to my hotel room and locked myself in there for a bit."

Paired with South African Bobby Cole in the third round, Huish quickly became aware that he was carrying the weight of the Scottish nation on his shoulders when he set out trying to protect his lead.

"I was pretty nervous and, after putting my second shot in the burn at the third and then missing the green at the fifth, I remember hearing this very deep Scottish voice saying: 'Come on big man, we've not come all this way to watch this rubbish'.

"I thought 'there we go, a Scottish supporter who'll support you ever more'. I felt so embarrassed as I believed I was letting everyone down."

"You stop playing for yourself in a situation like that. You are playing for your country and start going for pins you shouldn't go for – a total lack of experience after never being in that position before."

In the end, Huish finished 13 shots behind Watson but he insisted: "I got a wealth of experience out of it and people still come into the shop and talk about it.

While perfectly happy to have been a club pro for more than 40 years, Huish also enjoyed a spell when he was able to play a fair amount of tournament golf, tasting success on both the Tartan Tour and, more recently, the European Seniors Tour, winning five titles on the latter, the sweetest perhaps coming in the 1998 Scottish Seniors Open at Dalmahoy.

"The PGA Cup, the club pros' equivalent of the Ryder Cup, was a big thing for me and I was lucky to play in that eight times," said Huish.

"I also played in the World Cup with David Ingram from Dalmahoy at Las Brisas in Spain. That was the first time I'd played abroad and I couldn't believe how difficult the course was.

"Unfortunately for us, Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus were representing the United States and Miller was out in 29 and Nicklaus out in 34 – a different world."

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