10 Worst Sunday Collapses in Golf History (with Video)
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Choking is such a harsh word when used in the context of sports, but sometimes, there is just no other way to characterize what happens in an athletic endeavor.
Because of the individual nature of golf, it lends itself more to the word than perhaps many other sports.
When the pressure mounts and the stakes are high, the choke factor gets more and more intense, and even the best sometimes succumb.
Remember Rory McIlroy's four-shot lead at the turn on Sunday at the 2011 Masters and how it quickly disappeared into the trees on the left of the 10th fairway?
Here's my opinion of the 10 worst in the history of the game. Some of the names you'll be very familiar with; other names won't be quite so familiar.
Arnold Palmer Collapse in 1966 Was as Bad as Any
Arnold Palmer let what looked like a sure U.S. Open victory slip away in 1966
Arnold Palmer knew how to win major championships and how to handle final-round pressure.
But in June of 1966, the U.S. Open got away from him.
At the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Palmer was three shots clear of Billy Casper to start the fourth round. By the turn, Palmer led by seven.
But Casper shot 32 on the back and caught Palmer when he bogeyed the 17th. Palmer managed a par the 18th, and the two had an 18-hole playoff the next day.
Palmer was up by two with eight to play in the playoff, but gave up six shots over those eight holes to give Casper the championship.
Greg Norman's Masters Collapse in 1996 Was His Last Big Chance
Greg Norman had a great career which included some tragic moments
Greg Norman seemed poised to finally win big one at Augusta when he took a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo to the first tee on Sunday in the '96 Masters.
He played well the first three days, he was never really in it in the final round. He was off, Faldo was definitely on, and it became ugly quickly.
Faldo was carving out a nifty 67, and Norman went about the business of making five bogeys and two double-bogeys.
He dunked his tee shot on the famous part 12th, and it was all but over. Norman finished with a 78, making a six-shot lead turn into a five-shot deficit.
Adam Scott Will Never Forget the One That Got Away
Adam Scott seemed so close to his first major title
The 2012 Open Championship was going to be special because Adam Scott, the man with perhaps the best swing on the PGA Tour, was going to finally get his first major championship.
He began the final round with a four-shot lead, and when he reached the 15th, he still had the advantage and was five shots ahead of Ernie Els.
But Scott managed to make bogey on each of those last four holes with a combination of errant shots and questionable decision-making. Els remained steady coming in, and as Scott found the middle of the 15th fairway with his tee shot, Els drained a birdie putt on 18.
He waited and watched as Scott melted down, giving Els the title.
Phil Mickelson Sliced Away a Chance at an Open Title
Phil Mickelson's best chance to win a U.S. Open careened off a hospitality tent on the 72nd hole
Phil Mickelson had a chance to pull off the major hat trick when he came to Winged Foot for the 2006 U.S. Open.
And he had positioned himself nicely with rounds of 70, 73 and 69. While he fought an unruly driver (hitting only two fairways all day), he pulled the big stick on the 18th tee. And, once again he missed the fairway badly, bouncing his drive off the roof of a hospitality tent.
It looked as though he might be able to hang on to his one-shot lead, but Mickelson chose to try a risky shot to reach the green. His big slice, however, hit a branch and dropped about 25 yards ahead of him.
He hit another slice, this one burying in the back bunker. That resulted in a double-bogey and Mickelson coming up one shot short of a playoff.
"I'm such an idiot," Mickelson famously said afterward.
That's Hoch, as in Choke
Scott Hoch made meltdown history at the 1989 Masters
Scott Hoch had a long career on the PGA Tour, but a pair of short putts kept him from winning his only major championship.
In the 1989 Masters, Hoch led Nick Faldo by one shot on the 17th hole on Sunday, but missed a short putt for par and fell into a tie. They went to a playoff that started on the 10th hole.
Faldo struggled to a bogey and Hoch had a birdie putt; all Hoch needed was a two-putt to win the Masters.
His first putt rolled a couple feet past the hole, and he missed that.
The playoff went to the next hole and and Faldo rolled in the 25-foot putt for birdie.
Jean Van De Velde's Historic Adventure
Jean Van de Velde's final round defied description
Jean Van de Velde was a journeyman on the European Tour and was out of his element when he found himself in the lead of the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie late on Sunday afternoon.
Trying to become the Frenchman to win the Open Championship since 1907, Van De Velde needed only a double-bogey on the final hole to win.
He had a three-shot lead, and an average drive rolled into the rough, leaving a decision as to whether or not to lay up or golf for the green. Van de Velde opted to go for it and his ball hit the grandstands. It then caromed onto the rocks along the edge of Barry Burn, finally settling into thick rough.
He tried to hack the ball out of the rough, over the burn and onto the green. But the ball dove into the water. He took his shoes off, rolled up his pants and got into the water.
He eventually thought otherwise, and after the drop, he dumped a shot into a greenside bunker. He executed a nice bunker shot and sank the putt for a triple-bogey.
Van de Velde's day ended when he lost in a playoff to Paul Lawrie.
Patty Sheehan Found a Way to Blow a 12-Shot Lead in 1990
Patty Sheehan let a chance to win another U.S. Open slip away in 1990
One of the most dominant players on the LPGA Tour for many years, Patty Sheehan eventually earned a spot in the in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Her 1990 season was another one of those years, as she rang up five victories.
It looked like the Women's Open at the Atlantic Athletic Club was going to be another win.
Sheehan had a 12-shot lead early in the third round, but gave it all back on Sunday, posting a 76 to lose to Betsy King by a stroke. She played the final 33 holes at nine-over.
Mark Calcavecchia Almost Blew the 1991 Ryder Cup
Mark Calcavecchia will never forget the 1991 Ryder Cup
The 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course was filled with patriotism, frustration and tension. The United States were coming off three straight Ryder Cups losses.
Mark Calcavecchia faced Colin Montgomerie in a critical singles match on Sunday and was in great shape, four up with four to play. A win or even a halve on any of those holes by Calcavecchia would win the Cup for America.
He didn't win any of those holes, but Montgomerie was choking just as much and the match was halved.
Calcavecchia was crushed. He walked away from the 18th green, disappeared onto the beach and sat and cried.
His disappointment was salved somewhat by Bernhard Langer. The German missed a six-foot par putt on the final hole of the competition, halving with Hale Irwin and allowing the U.S. to win the Cup.
Rory McIlroy's Meltdown Was a Wake-Up Call for Him
Rory McIlroy's road to greatness was derailed in the 2011 Masters
The sport's brightest rising star, Rory McIlroy, seemed to be on the fast track to greatness, but something happened on the walk from the ninth green to the 10th tee during the 2011 Masters.
He had a four-shot lead, but promptly snap-hooked his tee shot on the 10th, the ball finishing between a couple cabins well off the fairway.
He triple-bogeyed that hole, followed by a bogey on the 11th and a double-bogey on the 12th.
All of that led to an 80 and a 15th-place finish.
Jason Dufner Could Have Been Crushed by PGA Meltdown
Jason Dufner couldn't get it done in the 2011 PGA
Jason Dufner looked to be perhaps one of the greatest underdogs in major championship history when he led the 2011 PGA Championship on Friday and Saturday.
He had a five-shot lead at 15 on Sunday, but hit his tee shot into the water and made three straight bogeys to allow Keegan Bradley to catch up.
Bradley then beat Dufner in a three-hole playoff.