Top 5 Masters Meltdowns: Pros Losing Their Cool
One of the biggest in the world of golf, The Masters Tournament, is upon us. It’s a great spectacle for the audience and it shreds the nerves of players. Whose meltdown was biggest though?
The golfing experts behind Function18 have voted on their favourite moments when golfers lost their cool and choked on the biggest stage:
5) Arnold Palmer (1961)
You mightn’t expect a four-time Masters champion to be making this list, but Arnold Palmer had a torrid time in 1961.
Gunning for his third Masters title over four years, Palmer had a one-shot lead over the eventual winner Gary Player on the final hole – both players managed to hit a bunker trying to hit the green. Palmer sliced his shot to wind up next to the television tower and ended up with a double bogey, whereas Player (one of the best bunker players in history) made par.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Palmer though, he went on to win two more Masters titles and got revenge of Gary Player the following year with a three-shot deficit in an 18-hole playoff.
4) Ed Sneed (1979)
Poor old Ed must have thought this was impossible not to win with three holes to go and a three-shot lead over his closest rival – but fate had other plans.
On the 16th and 17th holes he went one over par on both, somewhat cruelly, as his putts hung over the lip of the holes. He scored a bogey on the 18th as well, to tie with Tom Watson and the fantastically named Fuzzy Zoeller.
This was the first-year that they employed a sudden-death round to decide the winner and Fuzzy Zoeller came out on top – on his Masters debut no less!
3) Rory McIlroy (2011)
McIlroy got to the final round of the Masters with a four-shot lead, things were looking good for the confident Northern Irishman who looked set to wrap up his first professional championship.
McIlroy then hit what was possibly the worst drive ever seen at the Masters and wound up surrounded by pine trees. He made a valiant attempt to recover but he was clearly rattled and his score plummeted – in the end he didn’t even finish in the top 10 of the tournament.
Rory summed up his experience in seven perfect words: “It all went a bit pear shaped.”
2) Greg Norman (1996)
‘The Great White Shark’, Greg Norman lost his killer instinct in 1996. Having never won the Masters, Norman looked set to wrap up this one quickly with a six-shot lead at one point – but nothing is ever as simple as that.
What happened next was the talk of sports psychologists everywhere, when his challenger Nick Faldo started playing better and applying the pressure to Norman – he choked, badly. Scoring bogey after bogey and eventually losing to Faldo by 5, Norman looked a wreck as the tournament drew to a close.
Faldo has even said since that it was the only time he ever felt sorry for someone that he’d beaten. Ouch!
1) Jordan Spieth (2016)
Last year’s Masters tournament was certainly an eventful one. Danny Willet surprised many and became the first British golfer to win the competition since Nick Faldo in 1996. The biggest surprise, however, was just how much of a lead defending US champion Jordan Spieth threw away.
On the 9th hole Spieth was boasting a 5 shot lead and basically had one arm already in the coveted green jacket, what happened next was reminiscent of a Greek tragedy. Willet caught up to Spieth thanks to a catastrophic QUADRUPLE bogey on his part – the worst over-par score he had registered as a professional.
To make the day even more dramatic, Spieth mounted a late comeback before eventually coming up short.
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