It is 15 years since Steven Bottomley sensationally came from nowhere to finish joint-third in the Open at St Andrews.

And with the game’s greatest competition returning to the home of golf this week, the memories of that stunning performance back in 1995 remain as fresh as ever for the 45-year-old, who lives in Harden and has a golf business in Silsden.

The then Shipley member was struggling to stay on the European Tour when he played the round of his life on the windswept Old Course.

While the majority got blown away, his closing 69 was the only sub-70 score of the final day and, for a tantalising hour or so, left him the clubhouse leader.

His five-under-par finish ended up being one shot back from John Daly and Costantino Rocca, the American winning in a play-off.

But little-known Bottomley being top Englishman and winning career-best prize money of more than £65,000 was arguably as good a story as the maverick Daly winning on a links course.

“It was a great experience and always nice to do well in a major,” said the former England schools champion, who had come through a qualification play-off alongside Darren Clarke to make the tournament.

“I still remember at least 50 per cent of my shots, including the tee shot on the 11th, which no one saw, which was a four-iron draw into a 40mph left to right gale…”

Thanks to having teed off well before the leaders, the Bingley-based player was largely able to avoid that ‘Heck, I’ve got a chance of winning the Open’ moment.

“It did occur to me a bit that I was doing well but when I had a birdie putt to go five under on the 15th, the leaders were on about the eighth and nine or ten under,” said Bottomley.

“But the wind as it was, every hole was bogeyable or a hang-on par. A birdie was like an eagle.

“I’ve read John Daly’s book and he says he thought I had a chance (with five under) and that was the number to beat.”

His achievement was the cue for Shipley members to crack open the champagne back at Beckfoot. But it was back down to earth for Bottomley, who could not celebrate too much as he had to be at Hexham the following day for a Tesco pro-am!

His Open success was to prove the pinnacle of a career which first developed under Shipley professional Walter Lees.

After opting for golf rather than first love swimming – in which he reached county standard – the Bradford-born star was off scratch by 16 and enjoying a keen rivalry with brother Ian.

A successful amateur career – including England honours at boy, youth and senior level – laid the platform for earning his tour card at the age of 22 in 1987. That was the same year as Colin Montgomerie, with whom he played for Yorkshire.

Bottomley enjoyed some top-ten finishes but was a regular visitor to the European Tour qualifying school in order to retain his card.

His rise to prominence at St Andrews proved only a fleeting one and, in 1999, he lost his tour card.

Minor-tour golf failed to inspire him and so instead he opted to make a living from the game in a different way.

He formed Botts & Paddy Event Specialists with former European Tour player Patrick Hall, who was based at Waterton Park. With an office in Silsden, the pair specialise in running corporate golf events – both playing and spectating – and also source golf products via their web shop (

Bottomley, who is PGA- qualified, admits his playing days have taken a back seat.

“Social golf doesn’t really float my boat, having played the game for a living,” he explained.

He has not even been back to St Andrews since that day he shot to fame, though that is set to change this week in his corporate capacity.

He believes it is harder than ever to pick a winner for this year’s crown, saying: “The amount of quality golfers there are now, you could pick anyone from 40 guys.

“I just hope the wind blows like it did 15 years ago!”

That should make the contest even more fascinating – especially if someone comes from nowhere, just like Bottomley did.