That sound you heard on Sunday? That was the collective moan of golf fans around the world as 59-year-old Tom Watson failed to make par on the 72nd hole of the 138th Open Championship. A par would have made Watson the oldest major champion in history by more than a decade and instantly one of the best sports stories of the year. Instead, a clumsy bogey 5 forced Watson into a playoff with Stewart Cink. The old man wasn't himself in the playoff, going bogey-par-double bogey-bogey on the four extra holes. So where does Watson's late collapse rank all-time in the pantheon of major championship heartbreaks? Click through to find out.
Scott Hoch, 1989 Masters
Scott Hoch was in a playoff with Nick Faldo at the 1989 Masters. The playoff started at No. 10 and Faldo could only muster a bogey. Hoch, meanwhile, had a birdie putt. All he had to do was two-putt and a green jacket was his. Hoch's birdie attempt rolled just past the cup, leaving him less than three feet for the championship. Hoch, however, took an inordinate amount of time lining up the putt given its length. Even after he stepped up to the ball, he backed off again, not sure of how to hit the putt. In the end, he blasted it five feet past the hole. Though he made the come-backer, Hoch would lose on the next hole when Faldo sunk a 25-footer to win.
Roberto De Vicenzo, 1968 Masters
Perhaps heartbreak doesn't best encapsulate what happened to Roberto De Vicenzo at the 1968 Masters. De Vicenzo, who had won the British Open the previous year, finished tied with Bob Goalby at the end of 72 holes, meaning the two would meet for an 18-hole playoff the following day (the playoff rules at Augusta have since changed). But De Vicenzo signed a scorecard that had his score a stroke higher than it actually was, and De Vicenzo was forced to accept the higher score. Afterward, the Argentine was very direct in his statement: "What a stupid I am!"
Phil Mickelson, 2006 U.S. Open
Phil Mickelson stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead in the final round of the 2006 U.S. Open. The math was simple: Par wins it. But Mickelson, who had driven the ball poorly all day, pulled out the driver once again and missed the fairway badly. Rather than pitch out and take a big number out of play, Mickelson tried to hit a miracle shot. Instead, his attempt at a banana slice hit a tree and fell just 25 yards ahead of him. From there he was unable to save even bogey, let alone par, and missed out on another opportunity to win the U.S. Open. "I just can't believe that I did that," he said after the round. "I am such an idiot." To date, Mickelson has still not won his nation's championship but has finished second five times.
Sam Snead, 1939 U.S. Open
Sam Snead is a seven-time major winner, a Hall of Famer and a golfing legend. His résumé has only one notable omission a U.S. Open title. The worst of his Open collapses came in 1939. Snead came to the 72nd hole needing par to win. Sound simple? Snead made an 8. If that wasn't bad enough, Snead missed a 2 1/2-foot putt on the final hole of the Open playoff a decade later in the third of his four U.S. Open runner-up finishes.
Doug Sanders, 1970 British Open
It's happened to everyone. Just not on this stage. Doug Sanders was in a final-round duel with Jack Nicklaus at the 1970 British Open at St. Andrews. After a par on No. 17, Sanders held a one-shot lead. When Nicklaus made par on No. 18, Sanders only needed par. Thankfully, he was just three feet from the cup. As Sanders addressed the ball, he noticed something in his line, so he bent down to move it. However, Sanders never stepped away from the ball, he simply stood back up and hit the putt. He knew he had missed it almost as soon as he hit it. Sanders fell into a tie with Nicklaus and lost in the playoff the next day.
Tom Watson, 2009 British Open
Had he just faded away on Saturday, it wouldn't have hurt so badly. But Tom Watson was brilliant through 71 holes at the 2009 British Open, and made even the skeptics believe history was going to happen. But Watson failed to make par from the middle of the fairway on No. 18 and lost in a four-hole playoff to Stewart Cink. At 59, Watson would have been the oldest major champion in history by over a decade. Instead, he failed to follow through on what was nearly the greatest fairytale golfing story of all time.
Jean Van de Velde, 1999 British Open
It almost hurt to watch Jean Van de Velde sit there, untie his shoes and climb into the burn on the 18th hole at Carnoustie. Just minutes earlier he had stood on the tee, a three-shot lead in hand with only a hole between him and the Claret Jug. A double bogey was all he needed. But a wayward drive started one of the most disastrous holes in major championship history, and Van de Velde had to make a testy seven-footer just to save triple bogey and reach a playoff. The Claret Jug ended up going to relative unknown Paul Lawrie.
Greg Norman, 1996 Masters
Greg Norman wanted to win the Masters more than any other tournament. He had finished runner-up in 1986 (when Jack Nicklaus won at age 46) and again in 1987, and had seven Top 5 finishes at Augusta. After a 63 in the third round, Norman took a six-shot lead into the final round. It seemed no one could catch him, especially the way he was playing. But in a stunning turnaround, Norman blew up on Sunday, shooting a final-round 78, and lost by five shots to Nick Faldo, who came in with 67. A third-place finish in 1999 was the closest Norman ever got after that.