By BRUCE MEADOWS

 

 

JULY 2024

‘G’ as in Golf . . . and Gag . . .

   When Rory McIlroy missed two short putts down the stretch of the 2024 U.S. Open, he also missed a chance to win his first major in the 10 years.

    But although he definitely blew a chance to claim the Open title, it took some incredible scrambling by Bryson DeChambeau to seal the deal. Even with the two misses, McIlroy still could have won had DeChambeau not saved a number of shots from the sandy rough.

    Still, McIlroy’s late-tournament mistakes have put him in unique company as far as many observers are concerned, “evoking memories of some of golf’s most famous meltdowns.”

  

Here’s one online observation from Telegraph Sport:

“There have been bigger leads blown down the years, and worse shots played, but the context here was what made it so horrific; the journey McIlroy has been on, the 10-year wait for that fifth major, the enormous weight on the Northern Irishman’s shoulders every time he gets himself into contention, the knowledge of what this might do to his mental health. In the end, it has to be in the conversation as one of golf’s most painful denouements.

   Here is one look at where his collapse ranks among the most famous in golf history.

11. Rory McIlroy – 2011 Masters

McIlroy’s most famous meltdown, until Sunday at least, came before he was even a major winner. Then a baby-faced 21-year-old, McIlroy established a brilliant four-shot lead heading into the final day at Augusta only for his day to turn into a nightmare. By the turn, McIlroy’s lead was down to one, and when he skewed a drive into the trees on 10, close to some members’ cabins, it was all over. McIlroy dropped six shots over the next three holes to finish the day tied for 15th. He still hasn’t won at Augusta.

10. Arnold Palmer – 1966 US Open

One of the biggest ever leads blown, and by one of the all-time greats. McIlroy is in good company when even Arnie wasn’t immune to the odd meltdown. Palmer blew a seven-shot lead at the Olympic Club’s Lake Course, allowing Billy Casper to force an 18-hole play-off, which Palmer lost when he dropped another four shots across a three-hole stretch.

9. Phil Mickelson – 2006 US Open

The only major still to elude Mickelson, who finished runner-up a record six times. The closest he came to getting over the line came at Winged Foot in 2006 when he only needed a par at the final hole to win a third consecutive major. Mickelson hit a hospitality tent and a tree en route to carding a double bogey which handed victory to Australian Geoff Ogilvy. “I just can’t believe I did that. I’m such an idiot,” Mickelson said.

8. Adam Scott – 2012 Open Championship

Oh, Adam Scott and his belly putter went on a terrible journey together on the final four holes of the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Up four shots, Scott bogeyed the final four holes and brought Jean Van de Velde back to 1999. Ernie Els proved the beneficiary this time.

7. Jason Dufner – 2011 PGA Championship

Jason Dufner started choking away a five-stroke lead by hitting his 15th tee-shot into the water at the Atlanta Athletic Club. He ended it with three bogeys and a play-off loss to Keegan Bradley.

6. Ed Sneed – 1979 Masters

Ed Sneed continues the trend of late-round leads vanishing into thin air (look, it’s the worst collapses in majors history, what do you expect?). Sneed blew a three-shot lead on his final three holes, ultimately conceding victory in a sudden-death play-off to the excellently named, Fuzzy Zoeller.

5. Dustin Johnson – 2010 US Open

Sadly for ‘DJ’, you could enter two US Open collapses into this list, but it’s the initial meltdown that allowed Graeme McDowell to take the spoils that makes the top 11. He shot an abhorrent 11-over in the final round at Pebble Beach, including a triple-bogey and double-bogey on consecutive holes.

4. Sam Snead – 1947 US Open

Snead is the lone member of this list to not implode in his final round, but in the ensuing play-off. After birdieing 18 with ice in his veins, he forced that play-off. Snead first blew a two-shot lead, before missing a two-foot putt on 18 at the St Louis Country Club to allow Lew Worsham claim victory.

3. Rory McIlroy – 2024 US Open

Probably some recency bias, and not strictly a collapse in the sense that he still managed to beat DeChambeau’s score on the final day, posting a 69 to the American’s 71. But the magnitude of McIlroy’s collapse as soon as he found himself in the lead – having chased the rest of the weekend – makes it one of the worst chokes ever seen. For a player as talented as McIlroy, who had played as well as he had done across the first three-days, to finish so dismally will haunt him for decades. That DeChambeau was able to overturn a two-shot deficit, despite playing his final five holes in one-over-par, says all you need to know about McIlroy’s meltdown.

2. Greg Norman – 1996 Masters

Greg Norman blew a six-shot lead by the 11th hole in the final round of the Masters. In all, Norman had five bogeys and two double-bogeys to finish his day at 78, giving Sir Nick Faldo his third and final Green Jacket. It was a bad time. Later, Norman would say that he was trying to fix his swing, and managed to psyche himself out in the process.

1. Jean van de Velde – 1999 Open Championship

Perhaps the most iconic collapse in golf history, Jean van de Velde entered the final hole of the 1999 Open with a three-shot lead having led the way since the second round. He triple-bogeyed the hole after finding the water of the Barry Burn and infamously wading in as he considered playing out of it, before taking his medicine with a drop, and ultimately lost the Open in a play-off against Justin Leonard and eventual champion Paul Lawrie, but the collapse has etched its name in golf folklore with many since referring to ‘pulling a Van de Velde’.

Quite a list and one that brings back some memorable collapses.

Click here to find out more about our great courses! roosterrun.com/ windsorgolf.com/

Congratulations to Nick . . .

   Nick Savano, a student at Windsor High, qualified for the U.S. Amateur June 20 at Castlewood CC in Pleasanton.

    Savano shot a 69, surviving a seven-man playoff, to qualify, tying three other golfers for 10th place. The low score was 63 by Angelo Marcon of San Francisco.

   The Amateur will be Aug. 12-18 at Hazeltine CC in Chaska, Minn.

Coming up . . .

At Santa Rosa G&CC . . .

Short Game Extravaganza

Three days that is bound to lower your scores! Our signature school that covers every shot you would need on the golf course from 50 yards and in. Putting. Chipping. Pitching. Sand. Morning sessions break down these shots where we work on key elements and better performance. Afternoons we put all that we learned into action on the course. Our gift to you is a custom fit wedge or putter from Ping.

July 19-21 at Santa Rosa Country Club.

Lunch, snacks, and green fees are covered. Each student will leave with a booklet to reinforce what you learned at home.

At Bennett Valley GC . . .

JUNIOR GOLF 365

The only year-round golf program in Santa Rosa
Learn Golf FUNdamentals
Chase Kanarek | Director of Instruction
ckanarek@bennettvalley.com | 707-528-3673
$200 per session | Ages 6-13 | Choose from Thursday, Friday, Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon sessions

3330 Yulupa Ave. Santa Rosa, CA 95405
Discounted U.S Kids Golf Clubs, Range Cards – $50 Value for $30

Women’s Wednesday Golf

July 17, 24, 31, Aug. 7 and 13

Open to the public

Taught by PGA Director of Instruction, Chase Kanarek

5 sessions of instruction plus a $10 voucher to Iron & Vine

Week One – Course basics & putting

Week Two – Chipping & Pitching

Week Three- Full Swing Fundamentals

Week Four – Full Swing Continued

Week Five – On course play

Call 707-528-3673

 

At Foxtail GC

Foxtail Junior Club . . .

Join the Foxtail Junior Golf Club
18 Hole Stroke Play, 6 Tournaments, Ages 9-17

1 Entry Fee of $60 includes entry to all events
All players entered to win Player of the Year based on the flight.

Flights may change based on entries
Flights based on age of as of Oct. 5

Not a beginner program. Juniors should be able to play 18 holes walking.

Remaining tournament Dates: 7/20/2024, 8/10/2024, 9/14/2024. 10/5/2024. Call pro shop: 707-584-7766.

 

At Valley of the Moon and Foxtail . . .

August 17 & August 18: Valley of the Moon and Foxtail North

2-Person Better Ball Gross and Net Tournament. 36-Holes.

Tee Times start at 7 am. All Flights include Gross and Net Prizes;

$420 per Team – includes Green Fee, Cart Fee, Tee Gifts, Prizes, Range Balls and Lunch on Sunday; Annual Members or Loyalty Club MUST purchase directly with the golf shop for reduced pricing.

 

We’d love to have you join us . . .

  GOLF 707 currently has sponsorships available.

  If you’d like to support our online golf column, we would be able to feature your golf course or business in the column on a regular basis.

  If you’d like some details, contact Dave Cox at ysn365.com

Thanks . . .

Bruce Meadows

Let’s hear from you . . .

 Thanks for your comments, questions and suggestions. I appreciate them and would like to get as many as possible.

 If you have information about anything golf-related, including upcoming clinics, activities, tournaments or sales, let me know.

  And if you have questions, complaints or compliments about golf in our area, let me know and I’ll make some inquiries. Email me at bmeadows4sports@aol.com