Five of the worst... sporting chokes
Bogeying the last four holes in the final round to lose by one makes Adam Scott a new entry into a long list of sport’s biggest chokers. Here are five of the most memorable sporting meltdowns.
Jimmy White (World Snooker Final, 1994)
Just before the final frame started, commentator and former world champion Dennis Taylor declared that the atmosphere was so tense that probably the two coolest people in the Crucible would be the two players. Well, he was half-right. White, who two years previously had collapsed from 14-8 in front to lose ten frames in row to Stephen Hendry, found himself in amongst the balls and with the chance to finally lay his world championship ghost to rest. But that wasn’t the way Jimmy White did things, was it?
Limerick v Offaly (All-Ireland hurling final, 1994)
Five points up with five minutes to go, Limerick watched their dreams go up in smoke as Offaly banged in two goals in the space of 60 seconds and followed it up with five points to run out winners by six. Cruelly for Limerick, winning manager Eamon Cregan was one of the county’s greatest ever hurlers.
Greg Norman (The Masters, 1996)
Greg Norman stood on the first tee on Sunday at The Masters in 1996 with a six-stroke lead. He had twice won the British Open, in 1986 and ’93, and had been six times second in Majors in America at The Masters, the US Open and the US PGA, but this was his best chance of finally winning a Major in the US. However, his six-stroke lead had been cut to one by the time he and playing partner, the brilliantly stealthy Nick Faldo, got to the 11th. Norman double-bogeyed twice on the back nine for a final round of 78 and Faldo coasted to a five-shot victory. Despite a third place finish in the Masters in ’99 the Great White Shark would never be the same player again.
Newcastle United’s Premiership run-in (1996)
It’s almost become the catchphrase of the sporting choker: “I would love it, love it, if we beat them.” Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle had held a 12-point lead in the Premiership well into the New Year but a series of debilitating results later they were pipped at the post by Manchester United, whose manager Alex Ferguson had famously got under the skin of his rival. Keegan was gone by the following January. This was the moment when it became clear that things had got too much for him:
Jean van de Velde (The 1999 British Open)
You think Adam Scott and Greg Norman were bad? They experienced gradual meltdowns over a series of holes in their final round, but Van de Velde’s was an altogether more concentrated choke, across seven crazy shots at the 18th in Carnoustie. Van de Velde stood on the final tee with a three-stroke lead, meaning he needed a double-bogey six or better to become only the second ever French winner of a Major tournament. But he hit everything on that final hole – the grandstand, the water, the bunkers and eventually a ten-foot triple-bogey putt to take him into the play-off. A double-bogey at the first play-off hole took him out of the running and Scot Paul Lawrie claimed the win on home soil.