Golf's Top 10 one-hit wonders

Do you remember Len Mattiace?

They’re the golfing equivalent of Los del Rio or Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Okay, they may never make the pantheon of greats but the “Macarena” or “Come On Eileen” always bring back memories of days long gone. Take a trip down memory lane with our top 10 one-hit wonders.

10 Brian Watts 

Mark O’Meara completed a famous Open/Masters double in 1998, but little known Brian Watts came within a playoff defeat of snatching the Claret Jug from his American counterpart.

After three rounds of the 1998 Open at Birkdale, Watts was the only man who had held par and was two strokes clear of the field.

A shaky back nine on Sunday saw that lead narrow and then disappear, but Watts made a miraculous up and down from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole to force a fourhole playoff with his playing partner O’Meara.

After leading for much of the tournament Watts’ nerve finally broke in the playoff, and O’Meara was able to take the title with a birdie and three pars.

 

9 Len Mattiace

With 18 holes left in the 2003 US Masters nobody had even given the prospect of Len Mattiace winning a Green Jacket as much as a second thought.

He was in the top ten but he had the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh ahead of him and he was certainly considered an outside bet.

After a scintillating round of 65, one of the great Sunday rounds seen at Augusta, Mattiace found himself in a playoff with Mike Weir, sadly the fairytale soon derailed from there.

Weir was able to win the playoff at the first extra hole with a bogey five, leaving a visibly emotional Mattiace to reflect on what might have been.

 

8 Bob May 

Bob May has played in almost 170 PGA Tour events but has never won one. The closest he has been was in the 2000 USPGA Championship at Valhalla, where he was denied by Tiger Woods in memorable circumstances.

May trailed Woods by one going into the final round but defied the odds to draw level with the world number one on an afternoon when the two went toetotoe in an epic battle.

After both sank courageous putts on the final green they entered a threehole playoff, and then came one of the most iconic moments of Tiger Woods’ career.

In the fading sun he faced a swinging putt of 25 feet for a birdie at the first play off hole. Six feet from the hole Woods knew the putt was was in, and chased it into the cup with a finger pointing at the ball, for the first time all day May couldn’t find an answer and Woods went on to claim yet another major title.

 

7 Mark Brooks 

The USPGA Championship has been a happy hunting ground for underdog major winners and Mark Brooks took advantage of this to win the 1996 title. 

Brooks added his name to the list of people to deny Kenny Perry his elusive first major by beating him in a playoff at Valhalla, in Perry’s home state of Kentucky.

Brooks has not managed another tournament victory since.

 

6 Steve Jones 

Not a name widely known outside of America, Jones recovered from a disappointing opening round of 74 at Oakland Hills in 1996 to win the US Open.

With Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Tom Lehman and Davis Love III among the chasing pack on Sunday, Jones managed to hold them all off to seal his first Tour title in more than seven years.

 

5 Paul Lawrie


Sadly for Paul Lawrie his victory at the 1999 Open Championship will always be remembered as the one that Jean Van De Velde threw away.

Van De Velde needed nothing worse than a doublebogey six on the last hole at Carnoustie to become the first French winner of a major since 1907, sadly for him he racked up a seven, which included his famous barefoot trip into the Barry Burn.

That triple bogey allowed Lawrie and Justin Leonard another shot at the title in a threeman play off. 

And the Scot, who earlier in the day had produced the biggest final day comeback in Open history (10 shots), fired a magnificent approach to the 18th in the playoff to close with a birdie and win the fourhole shoot out by three shots.

 

4 Shaun Micheel

If you’re going to win a tournament in your career, make it a major. If you’re going to win a major, do it in style. That’s how Shaun Micheel did things.

After starting the 2003 USPGA Championship at Oak Hill 169th in the world rankings, Micheel stood over his approach shot to the final green with had a one shot lead and a tough looking shot from the first cut of rough.

What a time to find the shot of your life! Under the most intense pressure, Micheel’s seven iron pitched perfectly on the front of the green and rolled to within inches of the hole, leaving him the shortest putt imaginable to seal his one and only win on Tour.

 

3 Ben Curtis

Major debuts do not come any better than Ben Curtis’ in the 2003 Open Championship at Royal St George’s.

Coming just weeks before Micheel’s shock win at Oak Hill, Curtis surprised the entire golfing world with a one shot victory over Thomas Bjorn and Vijay Singh, ending the tournament as the only man under par.

The American stumbled over the finish line with four bogeys in his last seven holes but a closing par was enough to seal victory, owing much to Bjorn taking three to get out of a greenside bunker at the 16th, mistakes that cost the Dane the title.

A sign of the magnitude of the surprise of Curtis’ victory was that he was 3001 to win the title at the start of the week.

 

2 Rich Beem

In 1995 Rich Beem gave up the game of golf to sell mobile phones and car stereos, seven years later he was holding off a rampant Tiger Woods to clinch the 2002 USPGA Championship.

Beem, one of golf’s instantly likable characters, trailed fellow American Justin Leonard by three shots after 54 holes at Hazeltine but as Leonard crumbled on Sunday it was left between Beem and Woods to decide the champion.

Watching from the group behind, Beem saw the world number one birdie his final four holes to set a clubhouse total nineunder par, but the man from Phoneix, Arizona held his nerve to clinch the title by a single shot and celebrated watching his final putt drop into the hole with an iconic little dance.

 

1 Todd Hamilton 

Only the most ardent golf fans had any idea who Todd Hamilton was as the 2004 Open Championship began at Royal Troon.

Four days later the whole world knew who he was as he lifted the Claret Jug aloft as the ‘champion golfer of the year’.

After plying his trade in some of golf’s most distant outposts for more than a decade, the American finally made a name for himself in spectacular circumstances. 

Hamilton ended the four rounds on Scotland’s west coast tied with Ernie Els, and then notched four pars in the playoff to defeat the South African and take the title.