OPEN debuts don’t get much worse than Thame’s Craig Hinton’s, who hit the highest amateur score for 37 years to finish rock bottom of the 140-strong field last week.
The town’s sole representative in golf’s most historic tournament hit 29 over par – making headlines in the national newspapers for all the wrong reasons.
Hinton’s nightmare second round included five bogies, three double-bogies, one triple and a quadruple, and just a solitary birdie at the 10th hole.
But he did manage to salvage pride with pars at the 17th and 18th, preventing him from hitting the 30 over par mark.
At one point, the 23-year-old was 10 over par from just four holes after hitting a quadruple bogey on the fourth.
But on reflection, even the amateur golfer (picrued, right) saw the funny side to it all and joked that the horror hole came from a decent tee shot.
He told the national press: “It was actually a good tee shot but it took a kick and rolled into the bunker. I chipped out and then my third shot went through the back of the green.
“I chipped one up that rolled right back down to my feet. I kind of lost track really. My playing partners both made par, I think.
“It seemed like I was playing the hole by myself for a bit. I took an eight to go with the two sixes I’d got on the first two holes.
“Walking to the fifth tee was my lowest moment. I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I was 10 over through the first four holes, 22 over for the tournament.
“I said to my caddy that things couldn’t have gone any worse. I was devastated. Everything had fallen apart and I still had 14 more holes to play.”
But, on what was one of the worst rounds of his career, the Oxfordshire golfer soldiered with his head high and managed to par his final hole, in front of a crowd at the 18th who had gathered to see him home.
With that par, he was able to leave the course in the knowledge he beat Sergio Garcia’s worst ever round of 30 over par and move on to his overall goal of turning professional later in the year.
He said: “It was a bit disappointing shooting that number in the biggest tournament I have ever played in. It would have been a lot easier if it had been a local tournament watched by one man and his dog, not The Open where the world is watching.
“But I have played against plenty of players who’ve turned pro and been successful. If they can do it, there is no reason I can’t do it.”