I had heard the story before but not from the horse’s mouth to be honest. I only read the real story in the Daily Mail last week when the man himself recounted the anecdote.
I had heard it on a rather drunken Home Of Golf Society weekend some twenty years back from the captain of the club, Alex Pratt. The HOGS is a society for ex-golfing St Andreans who have a nostalgic annual trip to the auld toon to reminisce, drink and play a bit of goff.
Anyway, Alex recounted how this student chap (who was not a very good golfer) had blagged his way through security onto the practice area in the 1984 Open at St Andrews. Alex said that he had then proceeded to take up a position in the driving range and started hitting very wayward shots, to the amusement of his friends and some of the assembled audience.
Brian Viner, the bloke who actually did it (now a Daily Mail journalist nonetheless) however tells it slightly differently. He indeed managed to get through security by employing the services of a friend as caddie and told the security bloke that he was just off the course and desperately wanted to work on his short game (clever ploy all said). He amazingly got through but then his nerve kind of failed him a bit, because there was a free bay next to Severiano Ballesteros. He unfortunately didn’t take it. Kind of bottled it I suppose.
He did however proceed to the practice putting area where he was approached by an American journalist, who asked him for his name and what he thought his chances were of winning! Brian seemingly said that his name was David Ridley and somewhat down-played his chances of winning The Open Championship.
What a shame though that Brian hadn’t had the presence of mind to introduce himself as say ‘Armitage Shanks’ or something along those lines.
Now that would have been a topper!
Nevertheless Brian was treated to free beers all-night in the Dunvegan on behalf of his friends who had bet that he wouldn’t do it.