For four Sundays, casual golf fans plop themselves on the couch and watch its major tournaments. Most end uneventfully, with someone winning by a handful of shots, but others are cinematic. The most epic collapses in major golf history are a part of the latter.
Sam Snead – 1947 US Open
Looking at the golf record books, you will see Sam Snead’s name sprinkled throughout it. Snead’s 82 PGA Tour victories tie him with Tiger Woods for the most in its history, and his seven majors have him tied with other legendary golfers such as Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer for seventh all-time. But he would not be in that tie if he fared better at the 1947 US Open.
It appeared Snead would escape with the trophy after birdieing the 18th to force a playoff. However, Snead blew a two-shot lead in the 18-hole playoff to Lew Worsham, capping it off with a two-foot miss on the final hole.
Mito Pereia – 2022 PGA Championship
The 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club was drama-free, with multiple major winner Brooks Koepka coming out on top. But As Mito Pereira quickly found out the previous year, the pressure of winning your first major can be difficult to overcome. During the 2022 PGA Championship, Pereira had a slight lead heading to the 72nd hole, needing a par to win the championship.
The worst-case scenario for Mito was bogeying 18, making it a three-way playoff between himself, Justin Thomas, and Will Zalatoris. Unfortunately for Pereira, that worst-case scenario worsened after his tee shot went into a small stream. He couldn’t recover in the subsequent shots, earning a double bogey.
Dustin Johnson – 2010 and 2015 US Open
In the 2010 US Open, Johnson was sitting pretty with a three-stroke lead after 54 holes but shot a putrid +11 in the final round, five strokes off the winner Graeme McDowell.
Johnson was ready to forget his collapse at the US Open five years later, but unfortunately, he just added another demon. He had a 12-foot putt to win the tournament go wide, and then duffed a four-footer to go into a playoff.
Johnson exorcised his demons a year later when he took home the trophy. He won the major by three strokes, officially putting his past mishaps in the rearview mirror.
Greg Norman – 1996 Masters
Greg Norman was a fan favorite during his days on the tour. It may have been for the nickname “Shark,” or perhaps because he resembled Crocodile Dundee. Nevertheless, everyone was rooting for Norman to win the green jacket in 1996.
With a six-stroke lead in the final back-nine, Normal self-destructed extraordinarily. His round concluded with five bogeys, two double-bogeys, and a second-place finish to Nick Faldo. Norman’s shortcomings were the primary example of a golf collapse until our next man.
Jean van de Velde – 1999 British Open
Jean van de Velde is almost mythical because of his collapse at the 1999 British Open. It’s not so much that he blew a three-stroke lead at the final hole, but how he did it.
To salvage the hole, van de Velde attempted to hit the ball out of a water hazard to avoid the penalty stroke. The image of him with no shoes and his pants rolled up to his knees is hard to forget. He triple-bogeyed and, of course, lost in a playoff to Paul Lawrie.
You never know when another one of the most epic collapses in major golf history will come again, especially since one was only last year. But it will take a lot to remove one of these from the list.