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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
The Phantom of the Open is based on the true story of Maurice Flitcroft, a crane operator from the city of Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, England, who entered the 1976 British Open Golf Championship qualification round by stating on the entry form he was a professional. The powers-that-be had no reason to question him because, in their eyes, who would be stupid enough to claim to be a professional when they were not?
You don’t have to have a great understanding of golf because the movie explains everything to you as the story progresses, but with little to no professional training, his final score was 121, the worst score in the tournament’s history. The goal of golf is to play as few strokes per round as possible, so it was no surprise when Flitcroft was dubbed “the world’s worst golfer.” When it was discovered that he lied to gain entry into the championship, he was given a lifetime ban from all their competitions.
Undeterred, Maurice gate crashed the championship and several other golf competitions at least six more times, using pseudonyms like Gene Paycheki, Gerald Hoppy, James Beau Jolley, and some outrageous names such as Arnold Palmtree and Count Manfred von Hoffmanstel. He also utilized fake moustaches, dark glasses, and a various assortment of hats, to disguise his real identity. While he never got past the qualifying round, he became a folk hero to regular people worldwide who admired his tenacity and never-say-die attitude, despite being a terrible golfer.
Flitcroft once stated, “Practice is the road to perfection,” but no matter how often he trained, his score never improved. The Phantom of the Open is a welcome treat during these tumultuous times, it reiterates the importance of having dreams, and even if you give up on them because life gets in the way, it is never too late to pursue them down the road. After all, if you don’t try, you’ll never fail. Or succeed.