Lee Westwood watches his ball, and his U.S. Open chances, disappear on the fifth hole

SAN FRANCISCO — Lee Westwood could still win the U.S. Open with a brilliant back-nine, but let's be honest: It doesn't look likely.

When it comes to major championship golf, one bad break can be the difference between taking home a trophy and walking away with a week's worth of what-ifs.

For Westwood, it's likely going to be the latter, after he suffered the cruelest fate imaginable on Olympic Club's 498-yard par-4 fifth hole.

Looking to take a 3-wood down the left side of the fairway, the Englishman flared the shot to the right, watching as it disappeared into a large tree lining the fairway. Assuming the ball had fallen out, Westwood made the walk down the hill ... only to find that it was still stuck in the tree.

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After waiting around and even using a pair of binoculars to try and locate it, Westwood was forced to go back to the tee. He wound up double-bogeying the hole to move to 4-over, making his chances of winning his first major championship incredibly slim.

Phil Mickelson knows exactly how you feel, Lee.

The funny thing is, the tree Westwood found on the fifth hole already had some history before his ball landed in the branches. Back during the 1998 U.S. Open, Lee Janzen, who was also looking for his first major championship win, watched the very same tree gobble his ball up.

After a lengthy wait, Janzen walked back to the tee to hit another. But in the process of making the trek back up the hill, his ball miraculously fell out of the tree, thereby saving him from a two-stroke strokes. The shots ended up being the difference between a U.S. Open win for Janzen and a gut-wrenching story.

Westwood may re-write the story before the day is done, but based on his previous track record, there's a better chance of him ending up as the bridesmaid once again. With seven top-3 finishes in his major championship career (all of them coming in the last five years), he has more that any golfer in the history of the sport without a major win.

And when this week finally comes to a close in a couple hours, it could be eight. Westwood has some incredible talent, but the longer he continues to go without a major win, the more you start to wonder if he's cursed. After what transpired on Sunday at the fifth hole, it looks like that could indeed be the case.

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