Many of us have heroes/heroines and regard them as such for various reasons. Mine takes the form of one unassuming man, Maurice Flitcroft, and the reason is for his being the most awesomest dude ever. Born in Barrow-in-Furness, England in 1929, Maurice dabbled in various work, including that of crane driver, laborer, railway porter, ice cream salesman, bus driver, and stuntcomedy high diver. But in these various accomplishments does not lie the reason for Flitcroft's heroism. This, my friends, lies in the fact that "Maurice believes, on the flimsiest of evidence, that he is a golfer" (Dobereiner, 1985).
The tale begins in 1976 when Maurice pursued his delusion to the extreme by entering the British Open - the most revered of all golf championships, perhaps the most revered championship of any sport. By definition, the Open is precisely that, open, however, Flitcroft surpassed the initial qualifying rounds by presenting himself as a professional golfer. This would be the equivalent of a ridiculous Week 1 American Idol contestant somehow being granted license to go straight to Hollywood. Flitcroft's performance was not surprising. He carded a 61 on the front nine and after recognizing, quite accurately, that he would need to improve on the back side, he did . . . with a 60. His 121 remains the highest ever in a major tournament.
When the press started buzzing, Flitcroft's mother received a phone call concerning her son's performance to which she replied, "Oh, has he won?" He had not. However, his score was, in fact, not too bad considering the fact that this was the first round of golf Maurice had ever played. He continued his quest for Open fame as he began using a variety of pseudonyms to gain entry into the tourney. Surprisingly, Flitcroft was successful at gaining admissions on FOUR more occasions as a presumed professional! In 1978 he played nine holes before being escorted off. In 1980 he "pulled out of the qualifying competition without hitting a shot because he felt that his game was not sharp enough for a sustained challenge" (Dobereiner). In 1984, he reentered as "Monsieur Gerard Hoppy, professeur de golf: Switzerland" whose 63 shots on the front nine saw cause for his removal. In 1990, as "Gene Paychecki: United States," Flitcroft was removed after being three over after two holes (not too bad one might think; however, when stopped by an official, Flitcroft could not produce an American accent and his cover was blown).
For the various reasons listed above, Maurice Flitcroft is my hero. Flitcroft passed away in 2007 but continues to inspire many.
Dobereiner, Peter. 1985. "Maurice Flitcroft: The Open's Don Quixote: How a Hapless Hacker Harassed the Royal & Ancient." Golf Digest.