Jean Van de Velde
As part of Ballantine’s campaign about the importance of character in golf, we interviewed some of the biggest names in the game about the moments when true character has been revealed on the golf course. This month, Hong Kong-based Frenchman Jean Van de Velde, who rocketed to attention at the 1999 Open Championship after coming unglued at Carnoustie's final hole.
How much does a player’s character influence the way they play golf?
Golf reveals the character of the person. The way that he plays is totally linked to his DNA. You look at a guy like Seve [Ballesteros], for example, and the panache that he had. That really was a reflection of his own personality coming out of him and you saw it when he interacted with the crowd or the way he played on the golf course.
Ian Poulter is the same, while [Miguel Angel] Jiménez is also very flamboyant. The way he plays – he hits left to right, right to left, the high shot, the low shot – that’s what he is. He plays like a matador and is not afraid of delivering the shots. It’s very unlikely that what you see on the golf course is not a reflection of the real person.
Does a golfer need to play the game true to their own character to achieve success?
Totally. It’s a job and you have to compromise, but all of us players all took up the game because we love the game and we love playing a certain way. If you look at a guy like Jiménez, he’s a great athlete and he makes a lot of sacrifices for the game, but he smokes a cigar once a day, he drinks a whisky – a Ballantine’s – once a day. It doesn’t go against his performance, it helps him to perform better because he’s always being true to himself. Sure, if someone drinks a whole bottle of Scotch, it might not be a smart thing to do if you’re playing at 8.00am the next morning, but if you have a glass, then fine.
Do we only ever really see a golfer’s true character in moments of pressure or difficulty?
It’s more in adversity that you see what a guy’s made of. There are up and downs in the middle of the round or the middle of the week, but it’s when you hit the wall – and we all do – then you really see what the guy’s made of. There’s no hiding in golf because of all the cameras and journalists and fans, and then you see what you’re made of.
Written by The Editors
Photography by AFP
Click here to see the published article.
More and more, women professionals the world over are discovering what they have in common, rather than the reverse, writes Lewine Mair
A year ago Francesco Molinari put the seal on a remarkable 12 months with one of the most sensational tournament displays ever seen in Asian golf, when he and Lee Westwood finished streets ahead of a world-class field at the WGC-HSBC Champions, reports Tim Maitland
The way Thomas Bjorn has reacted to his remarkable run of form makes him an ideal candidate for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy, writes Lewine Mair
The brilliant Thai, winner of four European Tour events, talks to Alex Jenkins about playing with Colin Montgomerie, his compassion for Tiger Woods, the state of his own game and his life as a paratrooper in the Thai Army
Luke Donald took some by surprise by becoming the world's number one ranked player earlier this year, but nobody is more deserving, writes Alex Jenkins
Chinese golf's leading light, Liang has become a truly global golfer. Here he talks about the importance of decision making as part of a series of 'Great Minds' interviews for this year's Ballantine's Championship
This unconventional PGA Tour pro, a former star of the Golf Channel's Big Break, has been making waves of late, writes Alex Jenkins
Alan Sutcliffe, who was a member of the Hong Kong team that won the first edition of the event, recalls his days of playing in Southeast Asia's premier amateur championship
Ten months ago the new Open Champion told us he would win again – but who knew it would be the game's greatest prize? Alex Jenkins reports
The Englishman, one of the most consistent players in the world game, talks about the importance of decision making as part of a series of 'Great Minds' interviews for this year's Ballantine's Championship, which Westwood won in May