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Both Doug Sanders and Stirling Moss were fated to miss out on sport's biggest prizes

Eamonn Sweeney


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Stirling Moss in 1955. Photo: Getty Images

Stirling Moss in 1955. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

Stirling Moss in 1955. Photo: Getty Images

Two of sport's great nearly men died last week. One was popularly regarded as the classic embodiment of the breed while the other was such a titanic figure it was easy to miss the fact that he fell into the same category. But what Doug Sanders and Stirling Moss had in common was that they were fated to miss out on the biggest prizes in their respective sports, sometimes by agonising margins.

Time may have rendered it less prominent in the public imagination, but the three-footer Sanders had to win the British Open, and pushed to the right at St Andrews in 1970, is probably the most famous missed putt in the history of golf. Only the tiddler Scott Hoch missed to win the 1989 Masters on the first play-off hole against Nick Faldo comes close.

There still seems something uniquely tragic about Sanders' lapse, a few seconds after BBC commentator Henry Longhurst complacently intoned, "So now. This is it. This is what people dream about." It cemented a place for him in golf history as the ultimate choker, a big-time loser who ended his career without a Major to his name.