WHEN Gary Evans somehow managed to lose a ball in the thick rough to the side the 71st green of the 131st Open at Muirfield back in 2002 when he had one hand on the Claret Jug he carried on regardless.

The English professional walked back down the fairway, took a penalty drop, smashed his fourth shot onto the edge of the green and proceeded to roll in an outrageous 35 foot putt for the most improbable of pars before finding the nearest television camera and screaming “that one’s for you mum!”

Evans, who has just turned 50 and returned to tournament golf on the Staysure Tour after a 13 year sabbatical from competition, has been back in East Lothian, the scene of his famous Open moment, this week to play in the Scottish Seniors Open.

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He required to draw all of his powers of perseverance in the second round of the pro-am event yesterday as competitors, your correspondent included, were buffeted by fierce south-westerly winds.

As we walked up the 13th hole, our fourth, yesterday morning he had some advice about how to deal with the elements. “You’ve got to use more club, swing smoothly, take the backspin off your shot and never, ever, ever, ever give up,” he said.

Neither he - nor the other member of our three ball, Sandy Lyle - let their heads go down during the four hours they spent being battered by the Scottish summer.

Evans has various business interests now – he oversees, for instance, the golf arm of luxury clothing manufacturer Hugo Boss in the United Kingdom – and his hopes of making an impression on the golden oldies’ circuit have been compromised by other commitments.

The game that saw him come within a shot of winning a Major title was certainly still evident. But from 100 yards in, on the greens in particular, he is currently lacking in the sharpness required to compete. There are fine lines between success and failure in sport. Anyone whose swing was the slightest out of synch yesterday or whose touch was a bit off was punished and punished severely.

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After watching one birdie attempt slide by he turned to this writer – who should have been frogmarched off the course at the turn for crimes against the Royal and Ancient game – and wailed: “Can I get a putting lesson?” It was a helluva day alright.

Lyle, who, of course, went one better than Evans when he won the Open at Royal St George’s in 1985, is a renowned links specialist. He played 17 holes superbly from tee to green in both of his opening rounds. Just a single stray shot and a couple of missed putts cost him dear each day.

The crowds who have turned up at Craigielaw have been royally entertained by the likes of Evans and Lyle this week. Their hairlines may be receding a bit and their waistlines a little wider now. But to cope so well with the typhoon yesterday underlined they have lost few of the skills that made them such exceptional competitors in their prime.