November 20, 2009
We're at the end of the decade of the 2000s, and so we're looking back on the highs and lows of the decade. And today, it's definitely about the lows -- the most painful coulda-been chokes from the last 10 years. How would the golf world have been changed had any of these gone a different way? We'll never know. Read and cringe.
1. Phil Mickelson, 2006 U.S. Open. For a brief moment, it appeared Phil Mickelson was ready to challenge Tiger Woods for the title of best golfer in the world. He had a two-shot lead on 16 and a one-shot lead on 18, but spanged his drive off hospitality tent, then dinged his second shot off a tree trying an overly aggressive shot. Agonizing moments later, he'd surrendered the Open to Geoff Ogilvy in one of the most painful collapses in golf history.
3. Kenny Perry, 2009 Masters. All he needed to do was make par on one of the last two holes. He bogeyed both. All he needed to do was drain a reasonable putt on 18. He missed. But like #10 on this list, being a great guy doesn't keep the Choke Monkey off your shoulders.
5. Greg Owen, 2006 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Owen all but had the Arnold Palmer Invitational wrapped up when he three-putted the 17th from about two feet out. Owen would bogey the final hole, giving Rod Pampling the surprising win.
6. Matt Gogel, 2000 Pebble Beach. Gogel was seven strokes up on Tiger Woods with seven to play, and ended up losing in one of the most dramatic collapses in the face of a Tiger charge ever.
7. Stewart Cink, 2001 U.S. Open. Cink missed an 18-inch virtual tap-in that kept him out of a playoff at the U.S. Open. But as you may have heard, he did okay on another 18th-hole putt that led to a playoff a few years later.
8. Suzanne Pettersen, 2007 Kraft Nabisco. There are ways to win a tournament, but going bogey-bogey-bogey-double bogey over the final four holes isn't one of them.
9. Lorena Ochoa, 2005 U.S. Women's Open. Standing on the 18th tee with a chance to either win with a birdie the Open or at least get onto a playoff, Ochoa utterly grounded her driver and skulled the ball into the water to the left of the tee. Her approach ended in the grandstands, as did her tournament hopes with a quadruple bogey.
10. Tom Watson, 2009 British Open. Oh man, was this hard to put on this list. Watson's 2009 Open was almost the best day ever in golf. But when all he had to do was make par on 18 -- and when he left short a winning putt that he's made a million times before -- what else is there to say? Take the emotion out of this -- and believe me, we wanted Watson to win, badly -- and replace Watson's name with any other golfer on Tour, and you'd call it a choke without a second thought.
Also receiving consideration: Tiger Woods at the 2009 PGA, Colin Montgomerie at the 2006 U.S. Open, Sergio Garcia at the 2008 British Open, Michelle Wie failing to sign her card at the 2008 State Farm Classic.
Your turn. What did we miss? What belongs higher (or lower) on this list? (And no, if we were in the position of these folks, we would have done even worse. So would you.) You're up!