Sport Golf

Saturday 24 March 2018

Greatest chokes at the Majors


Adam Scott.
Adam Scott.

Karl MacGinty

In the wake of his Open meltdown on Sunday, Adam Scott admitted he'd cried during national hero Norman's shocking implosion during the final round of the 1996 US Masters. The Shark had been six ahead of Nick Faldo that Sunday morning but had five bogeys and two doubles in a nightmare 78 to lose by five strokes to the Englishman, who shot 67.


Palmer started the final round of the 1960 US Open at Cherry Hills four shots clear of the field and was seven ahead of Billy Casper entering the back nine. As Palmer launched an all-out effort to beat Ben Hogan's US Open scoring record, Casper went on a spree. By 17 the lead had vanished and it went to an 18-hole play-off, which Arnie led by two through 10 but lost by four strokes.


Four ahead with four holes to play in last Sunday's final round of the Open at Lytham, Scott posted four slapstick bogeys to hand the Claret Jug to Ernie Els. All his life, Scott has wanted to emulate his boyhood idol Norman -- but certainly not this way.


Imperious is the only word to describe McIlroy's play during the first 54 holes of the 2010 Masters. Four ahead entering the final round, he then underwent an unmerciful meltdown, starting with a triple-bogey seven at 10. A final-round 80 left Rory tied 15th, 10 behind Charl Schwartzel, who birdied the final four. Yet 70 days later, McIlroy won the US Open!


A solid player, Sneed had his best shot at a Major in the 1979 Masters. He began the final round with a five-stroke lead and kept a lead of several strokes through most of the day. Three ahead with three to play, Sneed bogeyed 16, 17 and 18. After a fourth-round 76, he went to a play-off won by Fuzzy Zoeller.


The Open at Carnoustie in 1999 is remembered for Frenchman Van de Velde's follies on 18, not the remarkable final-round 67 which earned Paul Lawrie a tie and ultimately play-off victory. Needing double-bogey at worst at the last to win, Van de Velde made eight after visiting the rough, the grandstand, the Barry Burn, famously even taking his shoes and socks off for a paddle, then a greenside bunker.


Decades after the 1970 Open, Sanders thinks every day about the short putt he missed for victory at St Andrews. One ahead after saving par from the Road Hole bunker, he was on the green in two and hit a lag-putt to around 30 inches. After bending down to remove a grain of sand in his line, Sanders knocked his ball over the right lip. Jack Nicklaus won the 18-hole play-off by one.


The American was branded for life as 'Hoch the Choke' after letting Nick Faldo off the hook at the 1989 Masters. On the first tie-hole, Augusta's 10th, Faldo struggled for a bogey five. Left with two putts for victory, Hoch rolled his first a couple of feet past, then missed the one back. Faldo clinched victory at the next.


"I'm such an idiot," sighed Mickelson after his collapse at the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot. Bidding for his third Major title in a row, Mickelson was one ahead walking to 18 but carved his drive way right on to the roof of a tent. Instead of playing out sideways, he opted for the spectacular -- with predictable results, making double-bogey six to surrender the lead to Geoff Ogilvy.


'Slammin Sam' won a record 82 times on Tour but never at the US Open. Needing to par the last to win in 1939, he made triple-bogey instead. More bitter was his 1947 play-off defeat to Lew Worsham. Two clear, Snead bogeyed 16 and 17 and, as he stood over a 30-inch birdie putt at 18, Worsham interrupted him to check who was further away. Snead then missed and Worsham holed out for victory.

Irish Independent

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