Tour pro: “I won £36,333 and celebrated on my own in McDonald’s in Torremolinos”

Gary Evans is one of the great characters to play on the European Tour in the past three decades. He relives some of his more amusing moments with Chris Bertram.

Tour pro: “I won £36,333 and celebrated on my own in McDonald’s in Torremolinos”
Tour pro: “I won £36,333 and celebrated on my own in McDonald’s in…

Gary Evans was once a top amateur, winning the Lytham Trophy twice and the English Amateur Stroke Play Championship on two occasions as well as playing in the 1991 Walker Cup.

He then turned pro and spent 14 seasons on the European Tour from 1992 but missed the 2005 season due to injury after which he had to change his swing.

Evans, now 55, shot to fame at Muirfield in the 2002 Open Championship when he finished T5 and one stroke outside of a playoff that was eventually won by Ernie Els

The Englishman's most memorable moment of the final round was when he recovered from a lost ball off the tee at the 17th only to then bury a 50-footer for par before letting out a huge roar. Relive that moment here!

But there are plenty of other stories you will have not heard about Evans, as golf journalist Chris Betram explores in the below Q&A. 

Some of his tales are absolute belters! 

Let's get into it... 

Tour pro: “I won £36,333 and celebrated on my own in McDonald’s in Torremolinos”

Evans next to the beach at Constance Belle Mare Plage

Before we start reminiscing, tell us what you’re doing these days?

I’m playing on the Legends Tour and still enjoying it. Who knows how long I’ll keep playing for but the spirit is still there; I went out to Mauritius for the end-of-season finale at Constance Belle Mare Plage as first reserve but didn’t get in. Now Belle Mare Plage is an amazing place, one of the best places on earth, and I had an incredible beach to lie on all day and the Indian Ocean to swim in… but I was gutted I couldn’t play. I had the sand and the sea and fantastic food, great weather… but I was gutted I wasn’t playing in the tournament. The urge to try to do well is still there.

Right here we go... how did you spend your first pay cheque?

[Laughs] My first European Tour event was the Johnnie Walker in Bangkok. The second one was Dubai Desert Classic. The trip was going to cost me £2,000. I only had £2,500 to my name. So I laid out the £2,000. I made the cut, Johnnie Walker, and missed the cut in Dubai. Came home. So I still basically had my seed money, and the next trip was Malaga, Majorca, Tenerife, and it was cheaper to do a three-week trip than it was back and forth. So the first week in Malaga, I finished second to Vijay Singh, and had a course record. Won £36,333. I celebrated on my own in Torremolinos in McDonald’s! Rang my mum and dad on a pay phone - no mobiles in those days of course. They asked me how I got on. ‘I said, I've just finished second’. They were crying down the phone. I'm still not paid though. The following week I finished seventh I think. I won £54,000 in my first five weeks. I went home and personal discmans had just come and I walked past Dixons on the high street and there was a Sony – I remember it was about £120. Three times I walked into that shop during that week off because I couldn't bring myself to spend £120 on a discman; I’d never had a penny to spend on anything. I saved all my money to buy golf clubs or equipment, or entry fees, or travel costs. But I bought it – and I s*** myself when I came out there, I felt so guilty.

Wildest Pro-Am or caddie story?

There are so many caddie stories, it's frightening. But I remember the Volvo Masters when one year I was staying with friends in San Pedro on the beach, and my caddie Dominic was with me. On the Saturday night, my friend threw a party. I wish he hadn’t. I was lying about 45th going into the last round and he threw this party, and it was wild. 5am in the morning we're still going, and I had literally an hour’s sleep. My caddie had jumped into the swimming pool, fully dressed with his phone in his pocket too, and I remember the courtesy car coming at 7am, and both he and I were feeling very worse for wear. We got to the course, walked onto the range, pull the wedge out. It felt like I was swinging an anchor. It felt that heavy. I felt so weak, and I took a divot the size of a shovel, and I said, ‘I think we'll leave this now’. We went to the putting green, hit a couple of putts, and walked to the 1st tee. He threw up on the side of the tee box. I got it down the fairway somehow, and then he threw up a second time to the side of the 3rd green, and for a third time to the right side of the 7th fairway. I don't remember hitting one shot the entire round. I just remember getting in the courtesy car. I think I shot 67, and I went from 45 to 12th. I got back to the house, and it was probably about 3pm in the afternoon, and my friend who owned the house, woke up, came into the lounge, and I'm lying on the couch with my spikes on, passed out. He came and woke me up, saying ‘Gaz, Gaz, you missed your tee time’. I’d shot 67 while he was sleeping!

When was the last time you broke a club?

To my knowledge I've only ever broken one club in my career and it was a driver. I was playing again – it's funny how you remember these things – we were playing at Noordwijske in Holland in the mid ‘90s, and somebody had given me this driver with this legendary shaft. Well, this shaft was s***, and I couldn't hit it to save my life, and I said to Dominic “’if I hit one more drive right, this club's gone”. Sure enough, thought I made a great swing, looked up and the ball sailed right into the crap. I've got hold of the driver by the end of the grip, and I've flung it up in the air, and it's done a swan dive. It just turned in mid-air, came down head first, landed on the deck and snapped. I casually picked up the two pieces and we carried on. Actually, that's a lie. There was a second time, which is hilarious. I was playing behind Faldo and Langer at the Lancome Trophy on the 10th hole, and I'm going out of my mind the pace of play is so slow, it’s a joke. I'm in the middle of the fairway waiting for them to clear the green. I've got wedge in my hands, and I hit this lovely wedge right down the banner. It landed by the flag, took one hop and bounced over the green. Dead. I've gone over to my golf bag, and, not hard, but I’ve banged the centre of the golf bag with the head of the club. Not hard, just frustration. Dominic picked up the bag, and as he's put his elbow or arm onto the heads of the clubs, the head of my driver just slipped all the way down the golf bag. So I had snapped the shaft of the driver.

Ever been fined by the European Tour? 

I got £250 for that! I've been fined a couple of times. John Paramor, god rest his soul, I loved John. But 1993 PGA Championship at Wentworth. I finished fourth in ’92 and I'm leading after the first round in ’93 with two holes to go. We’re on the clock. We've been on the clock since the 15th, and I'm playing with Per-Ulrik Johansson and Peter Fowler, two of the slowest players in the world, and we come off the golf course, and Paramor comes over. I'm thinking he's going to apologise. Instead, he hands me a fine for £250. I said, “you're taking the p***”. He said “I think you were three seconds over your first shot, four seconds over another one”. Total nonsense. He subsequently, years later, admitted to me he had to find somebody for press reasons, and I just happened to be the unlucky guy that got it. But at least he apologised. I didn't get my £250 back though!

Any hidden talents or party tricks?

My good friend Steve Webster, who I roomed with for six or seven years, was from a place called Atherston in Birmingham, and there was a couple who had a child from there who had this dreadful disease. We held a charity football match, the caddies and locals, and then we all went back to this pub. Steve and I shouted the pub for the night, paid for everyone's drinks, and all we asked was, each time you have a drink, please make a donation to a tin, anything. So to get the party going, I took everybody outside into the garden and, you know the old trick where you get a broom handle and you down a pint, and then spin round the broom handle 10 times, and then try and step over the broom handle. So I could do that, and so the deal was it was £10 to have a go, but if you succeeded, I'd put £50 into the charity. Well, of course 15-20 people came out and tried it. No-one did it. Watching people try and do it was brilliant.

The best advice you’ve ever had?

I was at very low point about 10 years after I started on the European Tour. I had got to a fairly comfortable place but then get divorced, I handed everything over to my ex-wife. Happily, by the way, I had two kids – it wasn't like I was forced into it. I wanted to make sure they were secure. But that leaves you in a predicament where I had nothing, and I was living in a one-bedroom apartment above a wine bar in Chobham, and getting p***** every day because I felt sorry for myself. For a period of time, that's all I did, and it wasn’t very clever, so my friend just took it upon himself to take me aside and said ‘stop p***ing your life against the wall, you’re a talented guy, go get your head down”. That's what I did.

Most embarrassing on-course moment?

The Open Championship at Birkdale in ’98 when Justin Rose did so well. I hit it off the back of the 17th green for two and looked like I had a perfectly normal lie. I've got a little pitch shot maybe six yards onto the green. But as I hit it, the ball – rather go forwards – went three yards backwards. So it was obviously wedged up against something, but I couldn’t see it. So I stood there and there's 1,000 people around the green and everyone took a sharp intake of breath, but I started laughing, so everybody else started laughing. Embarrassing, but not really. I found it funny.

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