World of Sport

The Open: St Andrews not so saintly

World of Sport

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St Andrews in Fife is the home of golf, but it has become home to a few tasty tales for the tabloid press to salivate over in recent years.

Where there is Major golf, there are celebrities and where there are celebrities, there are anecdotes to be cherished long after the last putt on the 18th hole has been drained and the last drink downed at the 19th.

We look at a few of our favourite tabloid tales from the host of the 139th Open Championship that betray the conservative image of St Andrews as a small, sleepy Scottish town.  

Costner takes on leading role

Kevin Costner is recalled for his depiction of Robin Hood in the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but he was allegedly discovered without his tights or, more crucially, a towel when he decided to visit the Old Course Hotel in 2004.

The story goes that Costner, lead in the 1996 golf movie Tin Cup, visited the hotel for a massage during his honeymoon before managing to relieve himself of his clothes and perform a "sex act" in front of a horrified spa worker.

The troubled hotel employee claimed she was unfairly dismissed after complaining to her bosses about the film star's alleged lurid conduct, but she settled out of court for an undisclosed sum before a tribunal hearing was due to begin. Whether on or off the golf course, it seems that Costner has got 'game'.

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Murray lost in translation

Bill Murray's role as a bungling caddy alongside Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack remains some of the American comic's finest early work, but he is also convincing in dealing with a sink full of dirty dishes.

Murray was playing at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2006 when he was invited to join a house full of Scandinavian students from the local university after closing time at local watering hole Ma Bells bar. Who wouldn't, I hear you ask? 

"It was really funny because he was pretty old compared with all the other people there, but he was so relaxed and it was really amusing when he started to wash up," said one student. A true Cinderalla story, as his character in Caddyshack might have put it.

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Grant lines up a few birdies

Hugh Grant, brimming with a few pints of confidence, certainly found a captive audience after playing the pro-celebrity event at St Andrews in 2007. Like Murray, Grant was quick to enjoy the appeal of Ma Bells. He was probably still recovering from his hangover when pictures of the actor and several girls were posted on Facebook the next morning. The tale quickly caught fire and before Hugh had time to work out how his short game was shaping up, he was plastered all over The Sun and Daily Mail.

Whether or not singleton Hugh was discussing missed birdies and bogeys with the girls remains a moot point, but the actor was "adamant that nothing untoward happened".

As the 'Notting Hill' star might have said: "I'm just a boy smothered by a bunch of girls, asking them to love me", while looking more like the cad from 'Bridget Jones's Diary'. He couldn't have looked happier had he posted an albatross on the final hole of the Old Course. 

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Douglas gets the third degree  

Michael Douglas was awarded an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews in 2006. The Wall Street actor and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones are regular visitors to the Old Course, which Douglas has had a penchant for since being invited to do a Q&A session with the students in 2003, but this time not in Ma Bells.

"Three years ago, I was at St Andrews and they asked if I would do a Q&A," quipped Douglas. "I had never seen so many beautiful women in my life. I then found out that Prince William was at the school. That was a time to be there." As Gordon Gekko would agree, greed is indeed good, Michael. 

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Woods hits a winning streak

Where would the game of golf be without Tiger? Love him or lament him, there is never a dull moment surrounding the game's finest talent, who has made the change from family man to playboy seem alarmingly simple.

Around the turn of the last decade, when Tiger was busy projecting himself as whiter-than-white wholesome American boy rather than the golfing equivalent of a pimp, Woods attracted the attention of a couple of streakers on Scotland's East Coast.

One was arrested on the 18th hole at Carnoustie in 1999, while a year later another danced around the 18th flag at St Andrews. There is no truth in the claim that Tiger posted bail for either woman.

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