He was given a front-row seat to the calamity that befell Frenchman Jean van de Velde on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie in 1999, but it was a shot six holes earlier that still haunts Aussie veteran Craig Parry.

Eight Australians will tee it up in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie from Thursday afternoon, AEST, Adam Scott the only survivor from 2007 when the game’s oldest Major championship last visited what is widely considered the most thorough examination golf can set.

Open Championships at Carnoustie deliver more drama than back-to-back seasons of “Love Island”, and it is Van de Velde’s collapse in the rising waters of the burn fronting the 18th green almost 20 years ago that is remembered more than Paul Lawrie’s record comeback to win.

It also represented Parry’s best chance to join the lexicon of legends who can call themselves Major champions and more than any other there is one shot in particular the now 52-year-old would love to have again.

At the start of the week Parry and his caddie Pat Janssen concocted a strategy of taking irons off the tee, showing off the power of ‘The Stinger’ to a fascinated Tiger Woods over the opening two rounds.

Starting the day in the final group with Van de Velde but five shots adrift, Parry made three birdies across the opening 10 holes and when the Frenchman bogeyed the 383-yard 11th, the plucky Aussie led The Open by a single shot.

And then disaster struck.

“We went in with a plan of hitting iron off the tee all week because the second cut of rough was so ridiculously long that you just had to keep the ball in play,” Parry tells Australian Golf Digest. “Our theory was that if you can stay out of trouble off the tee, even if you do get into trouble around the green the worst you’re probably going to do is bogey.

“I started the final round five shots behind Jean, so I knew I had to play somewhat aggressively if I was going to catch him. I made birdies at three, eight and 10 and Jean had made a few bogeys, so by the time we got to the 12th tee I had a one-shot lead.

“If I could have any shot over those last seven holes again it would be the tee shot on 12. We’d had the plan all week to hit iron off the tee, but Pat Janssen, who was my caddie at that time and is a terrific fella, he didn’t think I could get home in two if I didn’t take driver.

“I wasn’t so worried about hitting the green in regulation as opposed to staying out of trouble, but decided to go with driver and I ended up hitting it between the two bunkers on the right-hand side. But it was completely my call. I was the one who went and grabbed driver out of the bag.”

On a hole measuring 479 yards and named ‘Southward Ho’, it wasn’t the precarious position of Parry’s tee shot that ruined his chances of claiming the claret jug but the chain of events it set off. Bisecting the two fairway bunkers, Parry endeavoured to simply get the ball back in play but only managed to make his situation worse. Much worse.

“If it was in one of the bunkers I would have had to play out sideways and then go for the green with my third, but I actually had a pretty decent lie,” Parry recalls. “I hit pitching wedge just trying to get it up somewhere near the green and hit it 150 metres way into the deep rough on the left.

“I wasn’t even going for the green. Of all the times to get a flyer…

“I barely moved the next shot, hacked out with my fourth, hit onto the green and two-putted for 7 and all of a sudden Jean was one shot in front again.

“It’s not something I reflect back on much these days but it certainly took a long time to get over.”

That triple-bogey and another dropped shot at the subsequent hole effectively ended Parry’s chances, although he would go on to hole out from the greenside bunker for birdie at 18 to miss the playoff between Lawrie, Van de Velde and Justin Leonard by a single shot.

It also meant that a pre-tournament premonition from five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson was stricken forever from Australian folklore.

“Prior to The Open, he actually told my wife Jenny that he thought I had a very good chance of winning that week,” Parry reveals. “She didn’t tell me that until after the tournament.

“I went out to a function at the Dukes course that he designed at St Andrews and we spoke there, but he probably knew it was best not to say it to me.”