CROWLAND, England // Jean Van de Velde, the player who will be remembered for losing a major championship rather than winning one, is to retire from full-time golf. Even if the Frenchman, 42, whose triple-bogey seven on the final hole at Carnoustie cost him the 1999 British Open, manages to hang on to full European Tour playing rights, he will only play a few hand-picked tournaments next year.
Van de Velde's chronic knee problems, caused by a skiing accident six years ago, and a desire to spend more time with his family were behind his decision. "It's not like I'm going to stop playing completely but I'm definitely going to slow down a lot," Van de Velde said. "My career, I can compare to a good bottle of wine. You take a glass and enjoy it; you take a second glass and really enjoy it; a third, then the bottle is getting empty.
"I've been going around the world for so many years and at the end of the day you can only do so much. Next year I will only play the tournaments I really enjoy. "I don't know exactly how many I will play but the maximum will be a dozen," added the popular Frenchman who was struck down in 2007 by a virus which at one stage looked likely to end his career then. "My leg is always a concern, the injury does not leave me alone for long. It was definitely a concern last week (in the Portugal Masters) and that is not going to go away.
"After so long there are other things in life than golf. I have my family to consider and I have a few other things to do as well." Lying 133rd on Europe's money-list this week, going into the final event, Van de Velde could still earn full playing rights at the Castello Masters this week in Spain, but he would spurn the privilege, he said. "Even if I was to win this week I won't change my mind and it won't make any difference to my schedule for next year, it will be very, very reduced," he said.
If he is not among the top 115 players that earn Tour cards, he will rely on his final 2008 ranking for some of his starts next year and on invitations. First he will take a long break to decide where his condensed 2009 season will lead. At the moment he intends it to be a prelude to complete retirement well before he is 50. Commentating on golf although not full-time, for the same reasons he is curtailing his full-time playing career and course-designing, will come under consideration but Van de Velde is not planning on re-emerging as a senior player.
"Once you have been competitive it is hard to give that up, it's true. To play it (seniors golf) as a full-time career, though, the way I am thinking today, I don't think so. "But I will definitely go and see my friends on a handful of occasions, just to enjoy their company again." *Reuters