By ALISTAIR TAIT
Jean Van de Velde’s chances of returning to Carnoustie for this month’s British Open suffered a setback Sunday when the Frenchman pulled out of International Final Qualifying.
The 41-year-old Van de Velde was due to take part in the 36-hole qualifying event Monday at Sunningdale Golf Club in England, but withdrew because of a mystery illness.
There remains for the Frenchman only one route back to Carnoustie: He needs to finish as the highest player in the top 10 at the Barclays Scottish Open not already exempt into the British.
However, his participation in the Scottish seems unlikely.
“He has not yet withdrawn from that, but there is a scenario where he (might have to) take two or three months away from the game,” said Jamie Cunningham, Van de Velde’s manager.
“He is massively disappointed to pull out of Monday, but he has to see a specialist in London the following day and the most important thing is obviously for him to get healthy again.”
Van de Velde has struggled with his health since April, but only revealed that fact on the eve of the French Open.
“I’ve been physically sick on occasions, including on the course during the Wales Open,” Van de Velde said. “I’ve had several tests already and they thought at first it might be a liver complaint which my father has also suffered from.
“That could have meant draining half a liter of blood every week for a while, but the latest test came back negative.
“Next Tuesday I’m going back to have a camera put down my stomach. Until then, what bothers me more than anything is that they don’t know.
“I have some good days and some bad days. I was planning to practice on Tuesday, but I didn’t because I was a wreck. Anybody seeing me would have thought I was drunk.
“The specialist thinks it could be either a virus or an infection. There’s no problem with my game technically, but I find that I hit about 30 balls and then have to stop as I’m tired.”
Van de Velde became world famous during the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. He looked to be on the verge of becoming the first French winner of the championship since Arnaud Massy in 1907 until he blew a three-shot lead on the final hole and then lost in a playoff to Paul Lawrie.
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Alistair Tait is a Golfweek senior writer. To reach him e-mail [email protected]