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The 10 worst single-hole blow-ups in the past 20 years

April 21, 2016
Phil Mickelson 2006 US Open.jpg

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The PGA Tour Twitter account routinely posts a "Golf is hard" segment, in which bad shots are showcased. The idea is that, hey, those chunks and slices and three-putts that are prevalent among us amateurs? It happens to the pros, too.

And no player has personified this stance like Kevin Na at the 2011 Texas Open.

At the ninth hole at TPC San Antonio, Na lost his drive into the woods, a shot which, while rare, is not unheard of in the top ranks. What garnered attention was the next shot -- and the shot after that, and the shot after that, and the shot after that:

The final damage for Na was a 16. Frankly, the fact that he finished his round with an 80 is astonishing.

You'll see that highlight at some point during this week's coverage of the Valero Texas Open, which got us thinking: What are the worst single-hole blow-ups in golf history?

Yes, Na's misadventures were the thing of nightmares, but it also came during his first round. For our list, we compiled meltdowns at critical moments, as the heightened stakes amplified the severity of the collapses. Moreover, we limited the field to just the last 20 years. Keeping those parameters in mind, here are the picks for the biggest single-hole disasters:

Jean Van de Velde, 1999 British Open

The English vernacular can't properly capture the Grand Canyon's majesty or the orotund beauty of Adele; these entities need to be seen, felt, experienced. The same applies to the glorious mess of van de Velde's 72nd hole at Carnoustie:

Dustin Johnson, 2010 U.S. Open

Mishaps don't have to come at the finale to submarine a round, as Johnson proved at Pebble Beach. DJ's one-shot Saturday lead quickly evaporated on Sunday thanks to a triple on the second hole. An ensuing double at the third booted Johnson from the leader board, and he eventually finished in a tie for eighth.

Sergio Garcia, 2013 Players Championship

Sergio's game is filled with numerous attributes. The "clutch" gene is not one of them.

Garcia was tied for the Sunday lead heading into TPC Sawgrass' infamous par-3 17th. The Spaniard put his tee shot in the drink; his drop attempt fared no better:

Garcia left the island green with a quadruple bogey. He would also double the final hole, giving the 2013 tournament to Tiger Woods.

Rory McIlroy, 2011 Masters

As a kid, I remember reading about the Augusta National cabins on the left side of No. 10 and asking my dad if they were in firing range. He laughed, assuring me no pro would ever miss that bad.


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He was wrong.

Happy Gilmore, 1996 Tour Championship

Listen, I know Gilmore technically won, but I think there was serious scorecard malfeasance at the '96 Tour Championship. In this video, Happy whiffs four times, and puts his fifth in the water:

Assuming Gilmore starts his windmill routine on his second shot, and giving him the benefit of the doubt that he put his drop on the green and one-putted, that would mean: The sixth stroke went in the hazard, seven out, eight on the green, nine in the hole. BEST case scenario, that's a quad.

Yet, the scoreboard says Gilmore took a bogey on the hole. Meaning, Happy signed an incorrect scorecard. No wonder Shooter McGavin remains upset about not winning the gold jacket.

Lorena Ochoa, 2005 U.S. Women's Open

I'm 87 percent convinced that Ochoa paid NBC to delete all video evidence of her tee shot on the 72nd hole at Cherry Hills, and with good reason. Leading by a stroke, Ochoa proceeded to hit what can only be described as a drop-kick chunk into the water. The end result was a quadruple-bogey 8. "I just gave it away, the tournament," Ochoa said afterwards. "I fought so hard for 71 holes and just the last one, you know, I feel really sad and that's the way golf is."

Phil Mickelson, 2006 U.S. Open

"I am such an idiot," Mickelson said after making a double on Winged Foot's final hole to lose the U.S. Open. Given all that transpired on the 18th, we concur:

Aaron Baddeley, 2007 U.S. Open

Oakmont did a number on the field in 2007, but through three rounds, Baddeley remained unscathed. Alas, that fortune went up in flames on the first hole in Round 4, as the Aussie took a triple, setting the tone for a final-round 80. Despite playing in the final group, Baddeley failed to finish in the top 10.

Jeff Maggert, 2003 Masters

Maggert has the misfortune of having two entries on this list, both in the same tournament. Maggert held a two-stroke advantage over Mike Weir when the pair began Sunday play. But at the third, Maggert's drive went into a fairway bunker. His approach ricocheted off the lip and hit him in the chest, forcing a two-stroke penalty. He walked off the green with a triple on the hole.


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However, Maggert crawled himself back in the competition, playing the next eight holes in two under. Alas, the notorious 12th put the dagger in his green jacket ambitions. After his tee shot found the back bunker, Maggert's potential sand save traveled into Rae's Creek. As did his drop. When the ball finally found the hole, it was for an eight.

Speaking of Golden Bell...

Jordan Spieth, 2016 Masters

Too soon?


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Too soon.