Who Engraves the British Open’s Claret Jug on Sunday?

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The good news for Garry Harvey is that hardly anyone at this year’s UK Open playing field has a pretty long name like Severiano Ballesteros – the Spanish master of the short game, three-time Open and three-time Open champion and winner. accidentally threatening a man with the minute to inscribe one of golf’s most sacred feats.

Harvey will face a forecast stress on Sunday. Like his father, Alex, who was tasked with getting the Ballesteros into history on time, he’ll probably have 10 minutes to add Rory McIlroy (11 letters) or Scottie Scheffler (16 letters) or someone else. completely different from the bottle of wine.

He will wonder about the spelling. He will be disturbed because of the distance. For carving effect as well as national pride, he won’t mind if Scot Paul Lawrie wins again. But he started carving when he was 14, has handled pub duties since Tony Blair was prime minister, and has a large enough stockpile of on-demand quiet that he’s played. at the 1979 Open, one of three matches won by Ballesteros, forcing Alex Harvey to add the Spaniard’s name instead of his son’s.

“When I’m nervous, I remember what my dad looked like and how he taught me,” said Garry Harvey, 67 years old and softly spoken, during the Old Course at St. Andrews, the site of the 150th Open. “When I’m under pressure, I think about my ex, and then I do it.”

And so a letter, says Harvey, can take eight seconds for him to add a band on the base of the pitcher.

Generations of Open winners have dealt with the engraving on the pitcher, officially known as the Golf Championship Trophy. But after Roberto De Vicenzo, winner of Royal Liverpool in 1967, failed to do so, R&A, the organizers of the Open, took control and turned to Alex Harvey. Garry Harvey, born a few months after Peter Thomson won the first of his five Openings, began his apprenticeship around that time.

At the same time, he was emerging as one of England’s best young golfers, finishing as runner-up at the 1971 men’s amateur championship and winning the following year. He also literally put his name on the trophy.

Other golf achievements followed, including a win at the 1985 Kenya Open and an Open landing at Royal Lytham & St Annes, where he finished a draw in 139th place. During that time, Alex Harvey’s hand had evolved into a fixture on Open’s television.

Garry Harvey is often accompanied by his father, considering his patience and manners. For example, Alex Harvey didn’t start adding Jean van de Velde’s name when he finished 18th at Carnoustie in 1999 with a three-shot record he soon squandered. He always waits for the news from the leader of the R&A team that the score is final.

Now, Garry Harvey, whose father died in 2008, a few years after retiring, has been in the Open for so long that he can’t remember exactly whose name he was first assigned to engrave.

Even if current craftsmen often prefer to work in the background, ritual is seen as an element of Open’s charm. Tom Watson, who has eight major wins including five British Open champions, says quick engraving has become “part of the entire Open Championship structure”.

“It really doesn’t matter if your name is on the trophy or not, to be honest – you have the trophy in your hand and you get to see that beautiful vase – but it’s a privilege,” said Watson, one of the first winners raise a newly updated trophy, said on Friday. “It’s a great privilege.”

In return, Harvey had a steady practice for the finals, prepping some parts of the engraving, like the venue and year of the tournament. But he also avoids venturing out on the field on Sunday, rife with hazards – crowds, stress, risk of falls – that could conspire to keep him in his place when the minute comes. He muted the television, didn’t care about the comments about his hand, and didn’t care about the clicks on the still camera’s shutter. He hoped a floorboard wouldn’t shake and disrupt his rhythm and concentration as he worked with an instrument he believes is at least a century old.

“There are all sorts of things that can go wrong, but what matters is the spelling,” he said. “You don’t want to slip, and that can’t happen.” (“Padraig’s spelling, you have to be very careful with that,” he said, referring to Padraig Harrington, the Irish golfer whose name he has twice added to the pitcher.)

Of course, extended gigs are part of his job, often bringing other sports titles and medals to his work area, whether it’s at St. Andrews or near his home in Crook of Devon, a village about an hour’s drive away. from Old Course. With his wife, Jeanette, he runs a jewelry store in nearby Dunfermline, where it seems only a handful of customers know that he works on vases.

He hopes to work on R&A for as long as he can and there is no prospect, he said, of another family member taking on the role.

Eventually, he’ll be back to watch a replay match on Sunday. However, he has plans for Monday: Senior Open qualifiers. But before that, until the engraving was complete, he would wait and wonder, what exactly he would need to do almost as soon as the last blow fell.

“If it’s a long name – a really long name – it’s going to be difficult,” he said.

He reassured himself, his voice softening.

“If Severiano Ballesteros can fit that gap.”

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