In 1999, an uncompromising Scot, barely noticeable on the golfing radar, accomplished what many would describe as a dream come true. Paul Lawrie, a gifted, yet relatively quiescent character on the European Tour, started the tournament a mere number, he left, reputation enhanced, a national hero and a new man.
After an eight-year absence, the Open Championship returns once more to the east of Scotland, where the world’s top golfers are tested to their limits on arguably the toughest course in the world.
With the tournament looming, eyes look to potential champions and rather unsurprisingly, those eyes are set upon the players who have dominated the circuit over the last 12 months.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els are just some of the names among a whole host of golfers expected to excel this year.
But what of the players hidden underneath the shadows of these golfing giants?
Iain Hannah, with his towering frame yet relaxed demeanour, spoke to icScotland about golf and his expectations going into this year’s championship.
He said: “I’ve been playing golf for as long as I can remember, my grandfather was captain at the Carnoustie Golf Club, and my father played at Carnoustie so I’ve grown up playing there.
“For all players it’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world but the elite practice intensively for it.
“Being a home grown player, and hoping to play the open at my home course, I’m looking to get through the regional qualifying, play well there, and hopefully have a dream couple of days at final qualifying.
With multiple stages of qualification, it’s exceedingly difficult for professional golfers like Iain to gain entry. Each year thousands of players congregate in hope of an elusive spot that may catapault them to new heights of golfing glory encapsulated through the fairytale story of Paul Lawrie.
Iain, somewhat defiantly, expresses a desire to chase his dream while keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
He said: “It’s hard to hold too high expectations but you have to remember that golf is 18 holes, everyone is playing themselves.
“If you have 3 good days and shoot 68s, you’ve got a fair chance of playing in the Open, but the courses get tougher as you progress.
“When you get there the players are of the highest calibre on the planet, I just want to get there and if I do that then my dream will be fulfilled.”
Carnoustie golf course habitually shatters dreams, a 19-year-old Sergio Garcia left the course in tears as the windswept and demanding conditions of the golf course overcame him eight years ago.
Jean van de Velde threw away a two shot lead and a major on the last hole after finding the water.
Dreams will be shattered come July, the question is, who’s will be fulfilled on a course where fairytales can happen?