2010 British Open: The 10 Best Comeback Wins in Majors History
Louis Oosthuizen leads a British Open field ready for the weekend surge.
He did well by giving himself a nice five-stroke cushion at 12-under par, but the pressure will continue to build as the weekend rolls on.
It will be interesting to see how he fares against that pressure and a field of players hungry to make a comeback and ruin the surprise leader’s bid to take home his first Major.
Of course, there is always a precedent for comeback victories.
Here is a look at 10 of the best comeback wins in Majors history.
Honorable Mention—Ben Hogan 1950 U.S. Open
It wasn’t a comeback in the purest sense of the word, but Hogan deserves mention here.
In February 1949, Hogan suffered a serious car accident when he collided with a Greyhound bus outside of El Paso, Texas.
He dove across his wife Valerie’s lap, as both of them survived.
She suffered minor injuries, while Hogan broke his collarbone, pelvis, ankle and crushed one of his ribs. He developed a blood clot that almost killed him. Doctors said he would never walk again.
But 11 months after the crash, he was playing golf again, and took home the U.S. Open that summer.
It was certainly a more courageous comeback than the one Tiger Woods is currently undergoing. But Tiger did win in 2008 with a torn ligament and double stress fracture in his knee, so I have to give him credit for that before completely bashing him.
10. Jack Burke—1956 Masters
This was a case of doing what it took to win.
Burke trailed by nine strokes heading into the final round, but all it took was steady play for a comeback.
Ken Venturi shot a final round score of 80 to lose his grip of the lead.
Burke’s 289 is tied with Snead’s 1954 score and Zach Johnson’s 2007 score as the highest winning totals in Masters history.
9. Y.E Yang—2009 PGA Championship
It wasn’t the biggest comeback ever, but it was still one of the most impressive.
The fact that it is still fresh in everyone’s mind certainly helps Yang’s cause to make this list.
It was also one of the last tournaments before the fall of Tiger Woods.
Yang trailed Tiger by two strokes heading into the final round. Tiger certainly wasn’t going to lose, as he was a perfect 14-0 when heading into the final round, or so everyone thought.
But Yang had other plans, battling Tiger and a two-stroke deficit to become the first Asian-born player to win a men’s Major Championship.
8. Tiger Woods—2000 Pebble Beach
This wasn’t a Major Championship, but Tiger’s comeback at the 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am still deserves to be mentioned as an epic comeback. I won’t put it any higher to save those spots for actual Majors.
Tiger ordered a seven and seven, completing a comeback victory after trailing by seven strokes with seven holes to play.
Tiger ended his day with an eagle, birdie, par, and birdie to win by two strokes.
It was his sixth-straight victory, tying a record set by Ben Hogan.
7. United States—1999 Ryder Cup
OK, last non-Major, I promise. But how can this one be left off? This would obviously be higher on any other list, but because I'm breaking the rules a bit, I'll leave it here. It deserves mention as the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history.
The Americans trailed 10-6 heading into the final day, but they pulled out the first seven matches of the day.
Jim Furyk upset Sergio Garcia and Justin Leonard pulled out half a point in his match with Jose Maria Olazabal to give the Americans a comeback victory for the ages, 14.5 to 13.5.
The Americans were criticized for running onto the green after Leonard’s putt on 17, but how can you not get excited over a comeback of these proportions?
It was also one of the last appearances of Payne Stewart who died in a plane crash a month later.
6. Gary Player—1978 Masters
Player trailed by seven strokes heading into the final round.
Before the final round, his agent was upset that he had no one in contention heading into the final round, to which Player replied, “But, what about me?”
His agent said, “You have to be kidding.”
No joke, Player rallied with a scorching back-nine performance. He birdied six holes on the back nine on his way to a course-record 64 at Augusta.
Player (-11) defeated Hubert Green (-10), who lead heading into the final round. Green hit for par in the final round.
5. Art Wall—1959 Masters
Wall caught fire in a way that few players have to torch the competition and come out of nowhere to win the 1959 Masters.
Wall birdied five of the last six holes to pass 12 players, including Arnold Palmer who finished third, and win by one stroke at 4-under.
Wall trailed by five strokes with seven holes to play and won with a final round 66.
4. Jack Nicklaus—1986 Masters
An amazing performance by any standard, Nicklaus completed this comeback at age 46.
His final Major Championship win, Nicklaus had a final round for the ages.
He set a record back-nine 30 at Augusta, as he birdied holes 10, 11, 13, 16 and 17 to go along with an eagle at 15.
He memorably held up his club while watching the birdie roll in on 17 to take the lead.
Nicklaus (-9) edged out Tom Kite and Greg Norman (both 8-under) with his final round 65.
3. Paul Lawrie—1999 British Open
This one is more infamous for Jean Van de Velde somehow pulling off the most epic meltdown in golf history.
Van de Velde needed to score a six on the par-4 18th hole to pull out a victory, but he decided to give away his three-shot lead instead with a triple-bogey.
Winner by default he was not, though. Lawrie completed a 10-stroke comeback in the final day and still had to pull out a four-hole playoff against Van de Velde and Justin Leonard.
The 10-stroke comeback is the biggest final-round comeback in PGA Tour history.
He managed to win the tournament without ever leading or co-leading in the regulation 72 holes.
2. Johnny Miller—1973 U.S. Open
Miller seemed to play himself out of the running with a 76 round on Saturday.
Facing a very difficult Oakmont course, Miller was facing quite the uphill battle, six strokes back.
But that battle had nothing on the show Miller put on Sunday.
He hit an 8-under 63 to set the final-round U.S. Open record, as he hit all 18 greens in regulation.
Miller birdied the first four holes to get his magical day started. He later birdied holes 11, 12, 13 and 15.
This was the first time a golfer hit a 63 in a men’s Major. Rory McIlroy equaled that feat on Thursday.
1. Arnold Palmer—1960 U.S. Open
Palmer trailed by seven strokes heading into the final round in 1960.
Palmer hit an incredible 65 on the final round to beat Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan, among others, with a 4-under final score.
Considered by many to be the greatest golf event ever, Palmer birdied six of the first seven holes en route to his epic comeback.
It was enough, as he birdied 11 and hit for par on the remaining holes to win his only U.S. Open.
So which is your top (or favorite) Major comeback victory?