Big Jubilee Lunch

Remembering When Warrington’s Phillip Archer Nearly Made European Tour Golf History

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As golf enters its major season in 2022, all of the focus is on the great and the good of the sport as they seek to win the most prestigious prizes available.

The PGA Championship in May will be followed by the US Open and Open Championship later in the summer – a period of three months or so that will cement legacies and, no doubt, create history for those able to outperform their rivals.

Jon Rahm leads the way in the PGA odds after his victory at the recent Mexico Open, while the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa will look to add to their major title collection when that event heads to the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They will be joined by a high-quality field of the best golfers on the planet, and amongst them may well be the veteran Richard Bland. The top 100 players in the Official World Golf Rankings are eligible for an invitation to the PGA Championship and Bland, up to 53 in the standings after his run to the last 16 of the World Match Play in April, must surely fancy his chances of securing an invitation to the second major of 2022.

That will come almost 16 years to the day that he missed the cut at the Celtic Manor Wales Open, which is a tournament that Bland has likely forgotten about altogether. But for one Warrington ace, that was an event in which he was a single putt away from creating a moment of sporting history…

Archer’s Aim is True

Born in Warrington and still the club pro at Poulton Park in the town, Phillip Archer enjoyed a golf career that most amateurs could only dream of. He held a European Tour card for five years, won three Challenge Tour events, twice qualified for the Open Championship and was a member of the winning GB & Ireland team in the Seve Trophy of 2007.

But all of those achievements may just have paled into insignificance had Archer been able to post a round of 59 in that Celtic Manor Wales Open back in 2006. In his opening round, the Cheshire man needed to roll in his birdie putt on the eighteenth hole to become the first player in history on the European Tour to break 60.

Alas, Archer’s putt slid by its target, and a potential moment of golfing folklore was lost – it would take another 12 years before Oliver Fisher became the first member of the 59 club at the Portugal Masters.

For context, that remains the sole sub-60 score on that Tour, while over on the elite PGA Tour only eleven players have carded a round of 59 or better – and only three had achieved the feat at the time of Archer’s golden opportunity.

He made international news for his endeavours, revealing to The Guardian that a surge of adrenaline had perhaps cost him. “I thought I had it,” he said. “I read it perfectly and just hit it a little too hard.”

Sport is packed with ‘what if’ moments, and if nothing else Archer, now 50, has a fantastic tale to tell the grandkids.


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