ST. ANDREWS, Scotland. The good news for Harry Harvey is that hardly anyone else in this year’s British Open has a name as long as Severiano Ballesteros – the Spanish master of the short game, a three-time Open Championship champion and an unwitting menace to a man from minutes to engrave one of golf’s most sacred trophies.
Either way, Harvey will have a bad feeling on Sunday. Like his father, Alex, who was tasked with putting the Ballesteros in history within the given time limit, he will have maybe 10 minutes to add Rory McIlroy (11 letters), Scotty Sheffler (16 letters) or anyone else in burgundy. jug.
He will worry about spelling. He will fiddle with the distance. He would not mind if the Scot Paul Laurie won again. But he started engraving when he was 14, has been a burgundy pitcher since Tony Blair was prime minister, and has a reasonably large margin of calm on demand, which he played in the 1979 Open Championship, one of three that Ballesteros won, forcing Alex Harvey to add the Spaniard’s name to the pitcher instead of his son’s.
“When I’m nervous, I remember what my father looked like and what he taught me,” Harry Harvey, 67, said quietly at Old Field in St. Louis. Andrews, site of the 150th Open Championship. “When I’m under pressure, I think of the old man and then I just do it.”
So the letter, Harvey said, could take eight seconds to add to the band on the base of the pitcher.
Generations of Open winners have engraved the pitcher that is officially known as the golf champion’s trophy. But after Roberto De Vicenzo, who won in 1967 at Liverpool, failed to do so, R&A, the organizer of the Open Championship, took over and turned to Alex Harvey. Harry Harvey, born a few months after Peter Thomson won the first of his five open tournaments, began his education in printmaking around the same time.
At the same time he was becoming one of the best young golfers in the UK, finishing second in the Boys’ Amateur Championship in 1971 and winning the following year. He also put his name on the trophy in the most literal sense.
Other golf achievements followed, including winning the 1985 Kenya Open and an Open Championship spot at Royal Lytham & St Annes where he placed 139th. All the while, Alex Harvey’s hands have become an integral part of the television coverage of the Open Championship.
Harry Harvey often accompanied his father, testing his patience and practice. Alex Harvey, for example, didn’t add Jean van de Velde’s name when he took first place. 18 at Carnoustie in 1999 with a three-shot lead that he soon squandered. He always waited for a message from the R&A leader that the evaluation was final.
Now Harry Harvey, whose father died in 2008, a few years after he retired, has been at the Open for so long that he can’t remember exactly whose name he was first commissioned to engrave.
Even if the current master usually prefers to work in the background, the ritual is seen as an element of Open’s charm. Tom Watson, whose eight big wins include five British Open wins, said fast engraving has become “part of the whole fabric of The Open”.
“It doesn’t really matter if your name is on the trophy or not, to be honest – you have the trophy in your hand and you can see this beautiful burgundy jug – but it’s a privilege” – Watson, one of the first winners to raise a freshly updated trophy, said Friday. “That’s a great bonus.”
In turn, Harvey has an established practice for the final round, preparing certain parts of the engraving in advance, such as the location of the tournament and the year. But he also avoids taking to a track on a Sunday rife with hazards – crowds, nervousness, risk of falling – that could prevent him from being in his position when the minute comes. He turns off the sound of the TV, uninterested in the comments about his hands and heedless of the clicks of the camera shutter. He hopes the floorboard won’t shake and disturb his rhythm and concentration as he works with the instrument, which he believes is at least a century old.
“There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but spelling is important,” he said. “You don’t want to slip, and that can’t be.” (“Spelling Padraig, you have to be very careful with that,” he said, referring to Padraig Harrington, an Irish golfer whose name he added to the pitcher twice.)
An outdoor concert is of course part of his job, which often brings other sporting trophies and medals to his work area, be it in St. Petersburg. Andrews or closer to his home in Crook of Devon, a village about an hour from Old Field. With his wife Jeanette, he runs a jewelry store in nearby Dunfermline, where few customers seem to know he is working on a jar.
He expects to work with R&A for as long as he can, and according to him, there is no prospect of another family member taking over the role.
In the end, he will have time to watch the replay of the Sunday round. However, he has plans for Monday: the Senior Open qualifier. But before that, until the etching is done, he will wait and think about what exactly he will need to do almost immediately, as soon as the last blow falls.
“If it’s a long name — a very long name — it won’t be easy,” he said.
He calmed himself, his voice trailed off.
“If Severiano Ballesteros can get into that gap.”