Top 6 Golf Major Championship Meltdowns

Date IconLast Updated: 2023 Apr 19
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Top 6 Golf Major Championship Meltdowns

It doesn’t matter whether a collapse occurs at Augusta or at the PGA Championship, when the golfer you have a bet riding on works himself into a seemingly unstoppable position only to suffer a mental collapse, it’s always a bitter pill to swallow.

These days, bettors who do their golf betting online have useful tools such as cash out to protect themselves at the first sign of nerves kicking in, but you still need the tactical sense to see a breakdown coming and even then the bookies might not make you an acceptable offer.

Fortunately for bettors, plenty of past examples can be used to educate ourselves to help spot the warning signs of an impending downfall. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at six of the biggest meltdowns in golf history.

6. Phil Mickelson | 2006 U.S. Open


Five-time major championship winner Phil Mickelson only needed a par on the final hole to secure the title. But after hitting his tee shot way left, he attempted to recover rather ambitiously by attacking the green. 

That went wrong as his second shot hit a tree. He went on to make a double-bogey to even miss out on a playoff with the slightly surprised eventual winner, Geoff Ogilvy.

That's just one of the six times that Mickelson has finished runner-up at the U.S. Open, and it's the only major championship lefty needs to complete the grand slam.

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5. Dustin Johnson | 2015 U.S. Open


On the final hole of his 2015 U.S. Open, Dustin Johnson faced a 12-foot putt for an eagle and his first major title, which he missed. 

DJ then had a four-foot putt left to get into a playoff with Jordan Spieth and he missed that, too. 

His final score was four under and what makes this even worse is that he shot a 65 on the first round of the tournament to lead and then played the remaining 54 holes in one over.

Johnson did make up for it the next year, winning the 2016 U.S. Open by three shots at Oakmont, but his 2015 meltdown was incredible to watch.

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4. Rory McIlroy | 2011 Masters


Rory McIlroy’s Masters' capitulation is hard to forget and seems to have left its mark, with McIlroy still yet to taste success at Augusta. 

After playing flawless golf for three days on his way to a four-shot lead, McIlroy went to pieces on the final day, making a triple-bogey and a double-bogey on his way to an eight-over-par round of 80. 

McIlroy has since gone on to win four major championships, but it remains to be seen if he can put his 2011 Augusta nightmare behind him and put on his first green jacket.

3. Greg Norman | 1996 Masters


Another final-day Masters meltdown, this time by Greg Norman. Norman fell apart over his last round to blow a six-shot lead, allowing Britain’s Nick Faldo to pick up the pieces to land his sixth and final major. 

It has to be said that Faldo’s brilliant final round of 67 meant he won it as much as Norman lost it, but Norman’s final round 78, which included a double-bogey and a disastrous hooked tee shot into the water on the 16th, makes it a major remembered for all the wrong reasons.

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2. Jordan Spieth | 2016 Masters


Was the pressure of winning back-to-back Masters, a first in the tournament’s history, too much for Spieth? 

After an impressive front 9, Spieth arrived at the turn with a five-shot lead. A bogey on 11 was a minor slip but a botched tee shot into the drink on 12, followed by a chunked pitch into the water and a third into the greenside bunker, produced a painful quadruple-bogey – a career first.

Although Spieth tried to recover, the damage was done, and England’s Danny Willet went on to win his first major championship.

1. Jean Van de Velde | 1999 Open Championship


There’s only one place to finish when talking of golf’s major meltdowns, and that is with Jean Van de Velde, standing ankle-deep in water on the 18th hole at Carnoustie in the 1999 Open Championship. 

We've seen some spectacular leads blown so far in this countdown, but you'd think heading into the final hole with a three-shot lead would be an insurmountable advantage. 

Yet somehow, because of a combination of rough, the infamous burn and finally a bunker, Van de Velde managed an astonishing triple-bogey, necessitating a final playoff with Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard.

Van de Velde unsurprisingly failed to recover and finished three shots behind Lawrie in the four-hole playoff. Worst of all, it turned out that the frequently heard commentator's phrase, ‘You can start carving his name into the trophy,’ had been taken far too literally. 

The engraver had to scratch through Van de Velde’s name, which had been prematurely engraved as soon as he'd reached the final hole.

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