Ranking the Top 10 Collapses in Masters History
10. Ben Hogan, 1946 Masters
Ben Hogan wasn't really the Ben Hogan we came to know—i.e., he hadn't won a major, when he competed in the 1946 Masters. He was a good player but was still in the process of becoming the great player.
Hogan won 30 tournaments as a professional before winning his first major and that is a record for most wins by a player prior to winning a major.
He trailed Herman Keiser by a shot as the tournament wound down. Keiser three-putted the 18th to fall into a tie with Hogan, but when Hogan got to the 18th green, he, too, three-putted. His two-footer for par didn't even touch the cup and Keiser had pulled off the first major upset in the Masters.
The win for Keiser was his first and only major title.
9. Arnold Palmer, 1961 Masters
It's never over until it's over is a famous adage, and it applies all events and all players, even to the greatest who ever played the game.
The 1961 Masters was a battle between a pair of future Hall of Famers, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer.
It came down to the 18th green or, more specifically, the back bunker on the 18th green.
Player was in the group ahead of Palmer on Sunday and his approach shot found the sand. He was able to get up and down to finish at eight under par.
Palmer finished his round moments later, hitting the bunker in two. But he didn't hit the shot he needed to out of the bunker, punching it over the green and through the crowd, where it landed near a TV tower.
He was able to pitch back onto the green but faced a 15-foot bogey putt that he needed to tie Player. He missed that to make double bogey and finish at seven under.
Palmer's mistake allowed Player to become the first non-American to win the Masters.
8. Ed Sneed, 1979 Masters
The 1979 Masters was a very unusual one.
Ed Sneed, a journeyman pro, somehow amassed a five-shot lead going into the final round. And perhaps even more amazingly, he led by three shots with three holes to play.
But he fell victim to the back nine pressure of the Masters and bogeyed those last three holes. That put him into a playoff with Fuzzy Zoeller, a playoff he lost. The two split the first extra hole and Sneed parred the second. Zoeller, however, knocked in his birdie putt to win the title.
Sneed never contended in another major, and his game went south to the point that Sneed quit the tour completely five years later.
Zoeller's victory, on the other hand, was the last time a rookie won the Masters.
7. Ken Venturi, 1956 Masters
There's probably a really good reason why no amateur has ever won the Masters:
It's just too hard.
Ken Venturi had a great shot in 1956. He came into Sunday with a four-shot lead, but four three-putts and trouble with Augusta National Golf Club's tricky wind gusts doomed him.
How difficult was it that day? The winner, Jack Burke Jr., edged Venturi by a shot.
The bottom line was this: The pressure got to Venturi as his lead shrunk. Quite naturally, he began to pressure and things got worse and worse.
6. Greg Norman, 1987 Masters
The 1987 Masters wasn't one of the classic Greg Norman collapses, but it certainly added to the heartbreak Norman has experienced at Augusta National Golf Club.
The Great White Shark actually played well, shooting a 66 on Saturday and hung in there throughout the final round. But he ended up in a playoff with Larry Mize and the late Seve Ballesteros. The Spaniard was eliminated on the first extra hole, with Mize and Norman moving on to the 11th hole.
Norman reached the green in two, while Mize was 20 yards short of the putting surface. As it turned out, Norman didn't stand a chance as Mize pulled out his 56-degree wedge and chipped in to earn his first and only major title.
Norman dropped to his knees as Mize's amazing chip disappeared into the cup.
5. Curtis Strange, 1985 Masters
The two par-fives on the back nine at Augusta National Golf Club are often make-or-break holes in the Masters and in 1985, they broke Curtis Strange.
In his best and only shot at a green jacket, Strange decided to go for both the 13th and 15th greens in two and didn't find dry land with either shot.
He was two shots ahead of Bernhard Langer when he got to the 13th fairway, but when the round was over, Strange lost by a pair of shots. Of course, he took penalty shots on each of those attempts that went into the water.
Langer overcame a four-shot deficit at the start of the day and birdied four of the final seven holes.
4. Jeff Maggert, 2003 Masters
Jeff Maggert's collapse in the 2003 Masters was not the most heralded, but it certainly was painful for him.
He was playing a typical Jeff Maggert-type conservative tournament and was in the lead by two shots going into Sunday. But it didn't take long for trouble to visit him.
On the third hole, his tee shot finished in a fairway bunker and his next shot clipped the lip of the bunker, ricocheted back and hit him. That's a two-shot penalty that led to an eight.
And while he made a couple birdies to try to get back into contention, it all ended on the famous 12th hole. Maggert hit his tee shot into the back bunker, had a bad lie there and hit a screamer across the green into Rae's creek.
He had to back across the bridge to hit his next shot. That one also found Rae's Creek and resulted in an eight.
Obviously deflated, Maggert made three birdies coming in to finish fifth.
3. Rory McIlroy, 2011 Masters
2. Scott Hoch, 1989 Masters
Winning a major championship is a difficult proposition, just any number of really good players who have tried and failed.
Scott Hoch was never a great pro, but he did win 11 times on the PGA Tour.
And he was probably as close to winning a Masters as a player could get without actually winning.
In 1989, Hoch led Nick Faldo by a shot at 17, but missed a short par putt and dropped back into a tie. The two parred 18 and went to a playoff. Faldo chopped his way to par, Hoch faced a birdie putt.
Two putts to win, but he rolled his first attempt less than three feet past. And sure enough, Hoch missed the return putt, keeping the playoff alive.
Faldo made a 25-footer on the next hole to win.
1. Greg Norman, 1996 Masters
There really can be no arguing that the 1996 Masters was absolutely the biggest collapse in the history of that grand tournament.
Norman and the Masters had a torturous relationship. It was the tournament he coveted the most and the one that treated him the worst.
This was the one in which Norman was finally going to get his revenge. He established a course record 63 in the opening round and took a six-shot lead into the final round over Nick Faldo. He was poised to go wire to wire to win his first Masters.
Norman had a solid start to the round fine but bogeyed holes nine, 10 and 11. When his tee ball found Rae's Creek in front of the 12th green, it was all over. He would finish with a 78 while Faldo posted a 67.
That was the end of Norman's career as a contender in major championships.