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Book Excerpt: Tales From Troon - Australian Golf Digest Book Excerpt: Tales From Troon - Australian Golf Digest

Australia’s Scott Barr was having the time of his life at the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon. Then he found the infamous Coffin Bunker 

Access to The Open expanded significantly in 2004 with the introduction of International Final Qualifying. In that first year, Andrew Buckle, Brendan Jones and Adam Le Vesconte qualified from Australia, Aaron Baddeley, Mathew Goggin and Rod Pampling via the US, while Scott Barr and Kim Felton topped Asian qualifying at Saujana Golf & Country Club in Malaysia.

Working as a teaching pro in Singapore, 32-year-old Barr was given an exemption into the Asian qualifier only after losing a playoff to Colin Montgomerie at the 2003 Macau Open and playing a handful of Asian Tour events to establish the necessary world ranking. Sixteen holes into his only Open, the former Canberra club pro was three-under and the talk of Troon.

“At the time it was a bit of a success story for The Open because I was the club pro who ended up qualifying, so they really pumped it up,” says Barr, who missed the cut by one with rounds of 70-76, bogeys at 17 and 18 on Thursday proving costly.

“I did a BBC interview the night before, I was fourth favourite on-course with the bookmaker, it was crazy. And I played well. I started well and just choked. That coffin got me in the second round.”

The “coffin” Barr refers to is the infamous “Coffin Bunker” that sits to the left of Troon’s “Postage Stamp” par-3 eighth hole, a place where many a good round has been buried. Coming off birdies at the fifth and seventh holes, Barr was two-under for the championship when, playing in the group behind Tiger Woods, his Open hopes suddenly spiralled.

“It’s just dead. It was one foot from being a great shot and I make double. I started blowing gas and oil then,” Barr says. “I hit 8-iron and the pin was in the centre of the green. I pulled it a little bit and it didn’t catch the wind. It fell a foot into that coffin and buried up against the front lip, which meant that I had to play it left-handed and backwards just to get it to the other side of the bunker. From there I had to play it to the front edge because I still had hardly any shot and I two-putted for double. Had it been two feet right, I’ve probably got a two-foot tap-in for birdie.

“That stretch at Troon gets really hard – nine, 10, 11 – they’re hard holes and I just stuffed them up a bit. I was hanging on, but it was really windy in the morning. When I came off, I was projected well inside the cutline but as soon as I walked off the course the wind stopped. It totally just stopped. The afternoon players had a cakewalk.”

As Barr was going backwards, Felton was making a charge. After opening with a round of 73, Felton’s round of four-under 67 on Friday was bettered by only two players, Americans Phil Mickelson and Skip Kendall. Winner of the West Australian PGA Championship, Queensland Masters and Cairns Classic on the secondary Von Nida Tour earlier that year, and with brother Tod on the bag, Felton began the final round tied for 15th and leading the Aussie charge when the realisation of what such a finish would mean hit home.

“I’d made the cut and ticked off my goal of doing that and then I got off to a pretty good start on the Saturday,” says Felton, who fell from 15th to 36th with a Sunday 77. “I get to a point where I’m flying and all of a sudden it comes to a crashing halt because I started thinking, Holy s–t, next year it’s St Andrews and if I finish top-15, I’m in. I started saying to Tod, ‘Mate, how good will it be playing at the Home of Golf next year?’ I started thinking really crazy s–t. Where I normally just play golf and put a score on the board, I started thinking way too far in advance and not focusing on what I should’ve been doing, which is just punching through and finishing the round.”

By playing all four rounds, Felton was exempt into second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school later that year and in 2005 won the Knoxville Open on what was then the Nationwide Tour.

“I wish I had taken more of it in,” Felton adds of his lone Open experience. “I’ve got footage on VHS, and I think, That was the most phenomenal week of my life. It could’ve been really, really good, but it ended up [being merely] good.” 

Excerpted from the book Aussies At The Open, by Tony Webeck and Steve Keipert, published in the lead-up to the 150th Open in 2022. Order a copy at:

Getty images: david cannon (barr), stuart franklin (felton)