For primarily the wrong reasons, Sunday will live long in the memories of golf fans.
The USGA’s farcical response to the penalty-that-wasn’t ruined what was becoming a great major. Chambers Bay last year ended in similarly controversial circumstances as what could loosely be described as greens took centre stage instead of the competitors. But what are the 10 most memorable major championships from the past ten years?
Note: The 2016 US Open won’t be counted as it’s impossible to judge just how it’s going to be remembered, considering it’s been less than 72 hours since the dramatic final day at the time of writing.
10. 2012 Open Championship
The definition of a choke. Standing on the 15th tee with a four shot lead, Adam Scott bogeyed all four closing holes, handing the title to Ernie Els. A solitary par from any of those holes would have earned him a play-off or two for the win. But, it wasn’t to be. Scott did finally break his major duck the following year, winning the 2013 Masters.
9. 2008 US Open
Who would have thought it will (probably) be his last. Needing a birdie to tie Rocco Mediate’s score in the clubhouse, Tiger did what Tiger does, or at least, did. His celebration was captured in one of the sport’s most famous images.
8. 2006 US Open
Oh Phil. For all of Lefty’s success, one title has always eluded him. With a record six US Open runner-up medals, he has certainly come close. In 2004, it all came apart on the 71st hole, two years later, he went one closer. With him and Colin Montgomerie needing just a par to go to a play-off, both managed to take a double-bogey 6. Phil, in particular, took a dramatic route to failure. Finding the hospitality tent with his tee shot as only Phil could, he decided to go for the green with his second. It cannoned off a tree and the ball advanced just 25 yards. His next plugged in a greenside bunker and despite his prodigious short-game, he couldn’t get down in two and Geoff Ogilvy took the title.
7. 2009 Open Championship
What might have been. A story comparable to that of Leicester City’s, had he won it. Tom Watson needed a par 4 on the last hole to win the Claret Jug at the age of 59, the American caught a bad break and made bogey. He lost the play-off to Stewart Cink but captivated the sporting world along the way.
6. 2010 PGA Championship
Dustin Johnson does love a rules controversy. Towards the end of a thrilling final day, DJ found a sandy patch of land to the right of the 18th fairway. He grounded his club in what he later realised was a bunker and was penalised accordingly, losing his place in a play-off. Martin Kaymer later beat Bubba Watson in that play-off.
5. 2016 Masters
Our first entry from Augusta but it’s going to dominate from here on in.
Of all of golf’s collapses, this surely ranks as one of the most surprising. This wasn’t just Jordan Spieth, this was Jordan Spieth at Augusta. The guy has played there three times and been beaten by a combined two players. After a stunning front nine to race into a comfortable lead, it all became very shaky. He avoided major damage on the 11th before completely unraveling on the famous 12th. After putting his first in the water, his next was arguably the worst shot hit by a professional golfer in a long time. He chunked the ball so badly, it almost didn’t even reach the water. He finally took 7 and dropped out of the lead. There was a nine shot swing between him and eventual champion Danny Willett over the course of 90 minutes.
4. 2012 Masters
As if an albatross wasn’t memorable enough, Bubba Watson claimed his first Green Jacket with a jaw-droppingly good recovery. His snap hook from Augusta’s famous pines finished just ten feet from the hole. He holed the putt and downed Louis Oosthuizen, who made that unforgettable 2 a few hours earlier.
3. 2015 US Open
Jordan emerged victorious after two of the most thrilling hours of golf you could ever hope to witness. The twists and turns of the final holes were unmissable for lovers of the game. The way DJ played that final hole was, until Sunday, DJ in a nutshell. Supreme power off the tee, gutsy approach and dismal putting. Having a putt to win and little more than a tap-in for a play-off, the Floridian walked off with nothing.
2. 2011 Masters
Another incredible day of golf. After Rory McIlroy’s infamous collapse, the first major of the year was wide open. Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Jason Day all went close but with one of golf’s most famous finishes, Charl Schwartzel birdied his final four holes to take the win
1. 2010 Masters
Possibly the greatest shot ever.
Peak Phil Mickelson as Bones reluctantly hands him a hybrid and he cuts a stunning shot from the pine straw, behind a tree, into just a couple of feet.
There’s clutch and then there’s Phil’s approach to 13 in the 2010 Masters.