A film about the remarkable true story of Maurice Flitcroft, the crane operator from Barrow-in-Furness who managed to hoodwink the R&A into letting him take part in final qualifying for the 1976 Open Championship, despite never having played golf before, is set to hit the cinema screens this autumn.
The Phantom of the Open, which is being distributed in the UK by eOne, sees Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance playing Flitcroft, and will be shown in cinemas throughout the UK and Ireland from November 5.
Flitcroft entered Open Qualifying in 1976 as a professional, despite never having played on a golf course before, and racked up a 49-over-par score of 121 in his opening round before he was rumbled by the R&A, asked to leave the course and banned from future tournaments. He tried, unsuccessfully, to enter subsequent Open qualifying events using aliases such as Gene Paychecky and James Beau Jolley. He died in 2007 at the age of 78.
The film is directed by filmmaker and actor Craig Roberts, from a screenplay by Simon Farnaby, who adapted the script from his own book “The Phantom of the Open: Maurice Flitcroft, The World’s Worst Golfer”, co-written by Scott Murray.
The film is a co-production between Water & Power Productions and Baby Cow Productions. It was developed by the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery and BBC Film. Funding also came from the BFI, BBC Film and Ingenious Media. Sony Pictures Classics will distribute the film in North America, Thailand, France and China.