Golf's Worst Major Collapses

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Golf's Worst Major Collapses

June 20, 2015

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Jordan Spieth, 2016 Masters

Spieth winning a second straight green jacket seemed like a formality as he made the turn on Sunday with a five-shot lead. But he stunned everyone by bogeying 10 and 11 and then hitting two balls into Rae's Creek on No. 12, resulting in a disastrous quadruple bogey. A couple hours later, Spieth was slipping golf's most coveted piece of clothing on Danny Willett instead of taking it home again.

Dustin Johnson, 2015 U.S. Open

A round of even par playing in the final group of an exceedingly difficult championship might not constitute a collapse. But consider the context for Dustin Johnson. He had a two-shot lead on the front nine on Sunday, lost it when he made three bogeys in a stretch of four holes, but still had a chance to win outright when he faced an eagle putt from 12 feet. Instead, Johnson not only missed that one, but the ensuing three-footer that would have forced a playoff with Jordan Spieth. Fortunately for DJ, he didn't have to wait too long for redemption as he won the following year's U.S. Open to finally claim a first major title.

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Adam Scott, 2012 British Open

For 68 holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes during the 141st Open Championship, Adam Scott appeared unflappable. Then, in an instant, his four-shot lead was gone. Bogeys on 15 and 16. An approach over the green and into the deep rough on the 17th hole. Then, after falling into a tie with Ernie Els, the cruelest blow of all: a drive into a fairway bunker on 18 that forced him to lay up well short of the green. He managed to knock his third shot close, but when he missed a par putt to force a playoff, Scott had completed one of the worst collapses in major championship history. Like DJ, Scott was able to bounce back quickly, claiming the 2013 Masters.

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Rory McIlroy, 2011 Masters

After an opening-round 65, most people covering this event spent the next few days anointing the 21-year-old golfer from Northern Ireland as the next face of golf. By Sunday night, the stories had changed to how McIlroy still wasn't ready to handle the pressure of golf's biggest stage. Following a tough start, he pieced together a front nine that kept him within reach, but his trip to the cabins that line Augusta's 10th hole with a wayward tee shot led to a triple bogey and knocked him out for good. His 80 dropped him to T-15, making his the highest ever final-round score by a 54-hole leader at the Masters.

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Nick Watney, 2010 PGA Championship

After rounds of 69, 68 and 66, Watney didn't wait long to show the final round at Whistling Straits wouldn't be his day. He made a mental mistake on the first hole that led to a double bogey and he never got on track. He shot a 43 on the front nine and was 11-over par on his round by the 15th hole. Even with two late birdies, Watney posted an 81 to wind up T-18 for the tournament.

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Dustin Johnson, 2010 U.S. Open

DJ looked like he would cruise to his first major title after a third-round 66 at Pebble Beach (a course where he'd already won two PGA Tour events) put him three shots ahead of the field. But after an opening par, disaster struck with a triple bogey on No. 2. A lost ball on No. 3 led to a double and when it was over, his 82 put him in a four-way tie for eighth place. Playing partner Graeme McDowell didn't exactly light it up with a 74, but he walked away the winner.

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Aaron Baddeley, 2007 U.S. Open

The poster child for the hot Stack & Tilt swing method entered the final round at Oakmont with his first 54-hole lead in a major and a pairing with Tiger Woods in the last group. He didn't leave anyone in suspense for long about how he and his swing would hold up under pressure. About 10 minutes after he teed off, Baddeley walked of the first green with a triple bogey. He would shoot 80 and hasn't seriously contended in a major since.

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Stuart Appleby, 2007 Masters

Augusta National played tougher than normal during this tournament, so Appleby's closing 75 wasn't a complete disaster. But it was still a huge disappointment for an Aussie who has never won a major. Entering the final round with a one-shot lead, Appleby played with Tiger Woods in the last pairing and shot the worst round of anyone else who finished in the top 10.

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Phil Mickelson, 2006 U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson came to the 72nd hole at Winged Foot a par away from a third-straight major. He walked away with the most painful loss of his life. A wild drive left and a questionable decision not to simply pitch back out to the fairway led to a closing double bogey and yet another runner-up in the event he cherishes most. His final-round 74 left him one shot behind winner Geoff Ogilvy.

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Retief Goosen, 2005 U.S. Open

The Goose appeared to be a lock for his third U.S. Open title in five years with a three-shot lead through three days, but he double-bogeyed the second hole and never recovered. His uncharacteristic 81 left him T-11, eight shots behind surprise winner Michael Campbell.

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Jason Gore, 2005 U.S. Open

One of the most unlikely golfers to ever tee it up in the last group on a Sunday at a major championship, Gore didn't do anything that day to prove he belonged. The mid-season Nationwide Tour callup shot an 84 at Pinehurst No. 2 to drop all the way to T-49.

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Ernie Els, 2004 U.S. Open

After three days of playing par-or-better golf, the Big Easy put up one of the biggest numbers of his career on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills. Entering the final round just two shots behind eventual winner Retief Goosen, Els shot an 80, which included four double bogeys, to barely finish in the top 10. On a day where many players struggled with the course's extremely hard and fast conditions, Els seemed to come undone more than most and he let the USGA hear about it afterward. "To take one of the best golf courses in this entire world and to make it a farce like that," Els said. "They've got egg on their face."

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