In the 1976 British Open Championship golf tournament, an amateur golf enthusiast managed to get accepted as a competitor and made history as the worst scoring golfer in the competition’s history. That man is none other than Maurice Flitcroft. Flitcroft, a shipyard crane-operator by trade, apparently wanted to pursue a new career as a professional golfer, despite his inexperience, and saw the tournament as his opportunity to begin his new aspiration in a big way. The naive man with big dreams had no idea what he was what he was doing, nor would he realize the impact his accidental entry into the tournament would have on the history of the sport. A new film by director Craig Roberts tells the wildly fascinating story of Flitcroft and how his excitement for golfing lead him to his infiltration of the professional golfing world.

For most of his life Maurice Flitcroft lived as a humble, unassuming, but mostly positive working man in Britain. He would marry the love of his life Jean (Sally Hawkins), help raise her son Michael (Jake Davies), along with their twin sons Gene and James (real twins Christian and Jonah Lees). When it seems that his days are numbered at the ship yard, Jean encourages Maurice to pursue something for which he has much passion. And that just happens to be the sport of golf. Through a lack of a proper screening process, Maurice manages to get admitted to the the 1976 British Open golf tournament, but has no idea how he would make the record books.

Based on the sports novel, The Phantom of the Open: Maurice Flitcroft, The World’s Worst Golfer by Simon Farnaby and Scott Murray, this film tells Flitcroft’s story and does so in a very charming and winsome way. Farnaby, who adapted the screenplay, and director Craig Roberts do a solid job of presenting this crazy true story of a man who simply wants to pursue his dreams fearlessly and with no pretentions whatsoever. The movie is absolute lovely and full of heart, and it is actor Mark Rylance, who portrays Flitcroft, and helps sell this story most amiably.

The film also features a great supporting cast in Sally Hawkins, Christian and Jonah Lees, Jake Davies, among others. As the main antagonist Keith Mackenzie, the man in charge of the British Open, Rhys Ifans delivers a most effective turn. He sees Flitcroft as an embarrassment to the event and the sport of golf, and hopes to stand in Flitcroft’s way after his first infiltration of the tournament.

And what I mean is that Maurice Flitcroft did manage to participate in other British Open events despite Keith Mackenzie’s attempts to stop him. Though Flitcroft was a sweet and courteous man, that never stopped him from rebelliously trying to keep playing in future golf events. The filmmakers and actor Rylance definitely win the audience over and have him applauding his efforts to do what he loves. The Phantom of the Open is a film I must recommend, whether viewing in a theater or enjoying at home.

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