Two days later, and I'd bet Dustin Johnson is still wondering what the heck went wrong. One minute atop the leaderboard of the U.S. Open, the next pinwheeling into the Pacific. But Johnson can take heart at the fact that he's by no means alone. Indeed, final-round collapses at the U.S. Open are almost routine. Almost.
Bill Jempty of OTB Sports compiled this list for Devil Ball — a list that, Jempty says, he knew almost entirely from memory. We bow in awe, and we read with sick stomachs of 54-hole leaders who shot a 75 or worse, and anyone with a three-shot lead or better who didn't hold on:
1960: Mike Souchak led by two, shot a final-round 75, finished T3
1964: Tommy Jacobs led by two, shot a final-round 76, finished 2nd
1966: Arnold Palmer's back-nine collapse to lose to Billy Casper. He had a seven-shot lead with nine holes to go. Palmer shot a final-round 71, and Casper caught him with a 68.
1967: Amateur Marty Fleckman (he turned pro later in 1967) opened the final round with a one-shot lead, shot a final round 80 and finished T18
1968: Bert Yancey started round with one-shot lead, shot 76, finished 3rd
1969: Miller Barber opened final round with three-shot lead, shot 78, finished T6
1971: Amateur Jim Simons shoots final round 76, finishes T5
1974: Tom Watson shoots final-round 79, finishes T5
1975: Frank Beard shoots final-round 78, finishes T3 (one shot out of playoff)
1984: Hale Irwin shoots final-round 79, finishes 6th
1985: T.C. Chen shoots final-round 77, finishes T2nd
1986: Nine golfers are tied for the lead (Bob Tway, Lee Trevino, Greg Norman, Mark McCumber, Lanny Wadkins, Chip Beck, Hal Sutton, Payne Stewart, Denis Watson) with anywhere from one to 10 holes left to play, all lose to Ray Floyd
1989: Tom Kite — final-round 78, finishes T9
1992: Gil Morgan — final-round 81, finishes T13
1998: Payne Stewart leads by five, shoots final-round 74, loses by 1
2005: Retief Goosen — final-round 81, finishes T11
2006: Kenneth Ferrie — final-round 76, finishes T6
2007: Aaron Baddeley — final-round 80, finishes T13
2009: Ricky Barnes — final-round 76, finishes T2
It bodes well for Johnson that there are some fairly esteemed names on that list. If there's any good to be taken from Sunday's collapse, it's that it happened on hole 2 and not hole 17. It was over quickly, and now Johnson can move on. Hopefully.