There are moments which make golfers wonder why they didn't go into insurance, or used-car sales, or industrial sanitation, or anything that didn't involve your entire career coming down to one single misplayed moment.
Robert Garrigus is a PGA Tour player only in the broadest sense of the term. He's played on the tour since 2006, but he's never won. He's only played in two majors — the 2004 and 2008 U.S. Opens — and missed the cut in both. He's one of those guys that plays early, among largely indifferent galleries, making way for the bigger-name players to come.
[Photos: Garrigus stumbles on final hole]
All that was about to change on Sunday. At the St. Jude Classic, he was rolling, holding off two well-established pros in Lee Westwood and Robert Karlsson. He stood on the tee at 18, the 72nd hole of the tournament, with a three-shot lead at 13-under. He could have used a tree limb and hockey-smacked his ball down the fairway and still walked away with his first-ever PGA Tour victory.
It didn't work out that way. Garrigus put his tee shot into the water lining the par-4 18th. With the penalty, he dropped and hit from behind the water, now lying 2. His third shot hit a tree and flew into the rough. He punched out with his fourth, and ended up on the green in five. One two-putt later, and he'd triple-bogeyed the hole, letting Karlsson and Westwood back into the game for a sudden-death playoff.
"I don't remember swinging on the 18th tee," Garrigus said. "I felt like I handled everything great today ... except for one swing."
As all-time collapses go, it'll never match Jean Van De Velde exploding at the British Open in 1999 or Greg Norman imploding at the Masters in 1996. Even so, the golf gods weren't done kicking Garrigus around.
Karlsson, Westwood and Garrigus stepped to the 18th tee once again for the playoff. And Garrigus unleashed one of the finest drives of his career, a 325-yard bomb that hit the fairway, rolled, rolled, rolled ...
... but came to rest behind a tree.
One punch-out and a chip later, and Garrigus was on the green facing a 12-foot putt to stay in the playoff. His putt rolled true, tipped over the edge of the hole ...
... and rolled out, curling 2-feet past. (It took Westwood three more playoff holes to win, but that's another story.)
Oh, and the kicker? When he fell from first to a tie for second, Garrigus's winnings for the tournament dropped from $1 million to $492,800. That's more than half a million dollars lost on one bad shot.
Sometimes, golf is a horrible, horrible game.