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Max Faulkner, former Open winner, dies aged 88

Britain's Max Faulkner, winner of the 1951 British Open, has died aged 88, the European Tour said on Monday.

Faulkner, known for his colourful and eccentric approach to the game, beat Argentina's Antonio Cerda by two shots at Royal Portrush to clinch the only British Open played in Northern Ireland.

He never won another major, something of a surprise for a player widely renowned for his natural talent.

"It was all I ever wanted," Englishman Faulkner said, recalling a closing two-over-par 74 at Portrush which left him at three-under 285. "The Open meant everything to me.

"When I was handed the trophy, I looked at the names on it -- Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Henry Cotton -- and thought: 'Wow!'.

"In fact, it meant so much that one victory in '51 sapped my will.

"I remember I had a putt at the second hole of the first round at Lytham the following year, from about four feet, which I managed to miss and my immediate thought was: 'That's it, I'll never win the Open again'."

He never did, and his Open triumph was not matched by a British player until Tony Jacklin won at Royal Lytham in 1969.

Born in England on July 29, 1916, Faulkner represented Britain against the United States at five Ryder Cups, including the famous 1957 victory by 7-1/2 points to 4-1/2 at Lindrick, Sheffield.

In a search for putting perfection, he assembled a vast collection of putters said to number more than 300.

He constantly experimented with subtle variations of other clubs and very rarely was he believed to have carried a full conventional set of 14.

A dapper figure out on the course, Faulkner had great feel for the shape and flight of shots and was one of very few players in the late 1940s and early 1950s able to bend lofted approaches into the green at will.

He was honoured with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2001 for services to the game.

 

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