Top five chokes in US Open history

Everyone has their tales to tell. Winning the US Open takes guts and skill but getting over the finishing line is harder than it seems, writes our correspondent.

Over the years, a number of players have missed golden opportunities in the final round to get the glory, choking at some point where victory was in sight.

Here’s the top 5

Arnold Palmer, 1966

Proving that even one of the game’s greats can suffer under extreme pressure, Palmer went into the final round with a seven-shot advantage over nearest challenger Billy Casper. Intent on getting a record score for the event, he made a number of strange decisions which cost him dearly, leaving the then-unheralded Casper to capitalise and make a name for himself.

Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie, 2006

With five second-place finishes at the US Open, it’s understandable that Ladbrokes have Mickelson joint second favourite to win his first US Open but in 2006 he had his best chance to claim this elusive major. Phil and Monty were two of the favourites to win the title, but while Mickelson had already tasted success in the majors before, Monty,the nearly-man of golf, had his best chance yet of winning his maiden major. Sadly, one swing on the 18th, where he and Mickelson were joint leaders, cost him dearly as he hit a double bogey.
As for Mickelson, some wayward driving has cost him a third consecutive major, leaving steady Australian Geoff Ogilvy to clean up and lift the title from both players’ grasp.

Sam Snead, 1947

Another of the game’s legends, Snead went on to win seven major titles, but it should have been at least eight. On the final hole in the final round of the 1947 tournament, all he needed was to score par, which seemed simple. Sadly, a triple-bogey meant all he had to settle for was a playoff.

Controversy then ensued when he entered the playoff with Lew Worsham. An 18-hole playoff saw Snead two shots clear with three holes remaining, but he gave it away meaning both were level on the final hole. He lined up for a short putt and was interrupted by his opponent, asking to see who was away. After a little deliberation, it was Snead, but he missed, leaving Worsham to win.

Mark Brooks, Stewart Cink and Retief Goosen, 2001

In an incident which is now famously known as ‘Choke-lahoma’, the trio of Brooks, Cink and Goosen were all left with one putt to secure outright victory. Sadly for them, they all three-putted the hole which meant they would go to a playoff. Fortunately for Goosen, he managed to win an 18-hole playoff with Brooks by two strokes.

Retief Goosen, 2005

After getting away with choking in normal time four years earlier, the South African had it all in his own hands to secure a third US Open title. He was defending champion after winning it the previous year, and had been nicknamed the ‘ice man’ because of his calm temperament.

A solid but not unassailable three-shot lead evaporated courtesy of some incredibly messy putting, which eventually saw him drift down to 11th place on the leader board, a full eight shots behind the surprise champion Michael Campbell.