12 Stars Who Blew Their Last Shot At A Major (And One Who Didn't)
June 18, 2013
Harry Vardon, 1920 U.S. Open
In 1920, Harry Vardon ventured to America to play his first U.S. Open since losing to Francis Ouimet seven years earlier and was on the verge of avenging his loss after building a five-shot lead with just five holes to play. Unfortunately, a late round collapse led to a 78, but it at least he was replaced by another golden oldie: 43-year-old Ted Ray, the eventual winner, who became at that time the oldest player to win a U.S. Open.
Ben Hogan, 1960 U.S. Open
Despite being 47, Ben Hogan was a ball-striking machine in the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. In the days when rounds three and four were both played on Saturday, Hogan had hit 34 straight greens in regulation and was in the lead going into the 71st hole, until a bogey-triple-bogey finish dropped him to a T-9.
Julius Boros, 1973 U.S. Open
A 53-year-old Julius Boros took on the Palmer-Player-Nicklaus trio at Oakmont in 1973 and was T-1 going into the final round. But Boros stumbled, shooting 73 in the final round which opened the door for a young Johnny Miller to shoot his famed 63, the lowest final round to win a major championship.
Sam Snead, 1974 PGA Championship
At an incredible 62 year old, slammin' Sam Snead went hunting for his eighth major title at the 1974 PGA Championship. Snead was in the top 10 entering the final round and shot 68, inserting himself into the Trevino-Nicklaus duel that was playing out at the top of the leader board. But unfortunately for Snead, Trevino and Nicklaus held him off with a pair of 69s, leaving him in a T-3.
Raymond Floyd, 1990 and 1992 Masters
Raymond Floyd won majors in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and had two chances at adding to his major tally in the 90s after a late resurgence in his career. In 1990, Floyd, 47, hooked his second shot on the second playoff hole into the water to hand the green jacket to Nick Faldo. He had a chance at redemption two years later, but was held off by Fred Couples (courtesy, at least in some part, to a lucky break on Augusta's 12th hole), and finished second.
Ian Woosnam, 2001 British Open
Ian Woosnam was 10 years removed from his sole major victory -- the 1991 Masters -- and hadn't won on any tour since 1997 when he teed it up at the 2001 British Open. But the then-43-year-old found his groove and was tied for the lead going in the final round, until he was issued a two-stroke penalty after his caddie accidentally left an extra club in his bag. He would eventually finish T-3.
Colin Montgomerie, 2006 U.S. Open
With Phil Mickelson having won his first major in 2004, Colin Montgomerie entered the 2006 U.S. Open with the dreaded "Best Player Without A Major" tag and almost managed to shake it off, leading late in the fourth round. But entering the final hole, Montgomerie's 7-iron approach came up short of the green in the rough, where he chipped on and three-putted for a double-bogey to lose by one.
Rocco Mediate, 2008 U.S. Open
Rocco Mediate may be 13 years Tiger's senior, but the then-45 year old gave Tiger one of the best fights of his career at the 2008 U.S. Open. Mediate finished the tournament at one under, forcing Tiger to make a downhill 15 foot putt to go to extra holes, then fought him into sudden death after the 18-hole playoff, where Mediate eventually succumbed to defeat.
Greg Norman, 2008 British Open
A year before Tom Watson's historic charge at Turnberry, 53-year-old Greg Norman played his way into the lead going into the final round of a tournament rocked by extremely tough conditions. But Norman came undone with a final round 77 to slip into T-3, allowing Padraig Harington to collect the second of back-to-back claret jugs.
Kenny Perry, 2009 Masters
At 48, Kenny Perry was tied for the Masters lead at the end of 36, 54, and 72 holes, and would have become the oldest major winner ever had he saw it through. But it wasn't to be: After matching pars on the first playoff hole, Perry bogeyed the second -- No. 10 -- as Angel Cabrera claimed his first green jacket and second major title.
Tom Watson, 2009 British Open
Twenty-six years removed from the most recent of his eight majors, Tom Watson rekindled the magic when he shot an opening round 65 at the 2009 British Open and hung around until late Sunday, when the then-59-year-old had a putt to win on the final hole. But, alas, he missed, and was deprived of his sixth British Open by Stewart Cink, who beat him in a playoff.
Steve Stricker, 2013 U.S. Open
The 46-year-old journeyman Steve Stricker had the chance to become the oldest U.S. Open winner ever, and until the final round, looked in comfortable shape to do so. But instead, playing in the second-to-last group, Stricker blew his drive on his second hole out of bounds, then followed it with a cold shank to finish with a triple-bogey en-route to a six-over final round of 76.
Hale Irwin, 1990 U.S. Open
It's not all bad news for the older competitors! At 45-years-old, Hale Irwin hadn't won a PGA Tour event in five years, a major in 11 years, and needed a special exemption from the USGA to play in the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah. But it payed off: Irwin lurked on the leaderboard after shooting 69-70-74 in the first three rounds, until a final round 67 -- capped by a 45 ft bomb on the 72nd hole -- vaulted him into a playoff with Mike Donald, which he went on to win.