Scott or Van de Velde: Bigger Open collapse?

By Jason SobelJuly 24, 2012, 12:00 am

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Adam Scott blew a four-shot lead with four holes to play to lose the 141st Open Championship. Thirteen unlucky years ago, Jean Van de Velde wasted a three-stroke lead on the final hole at Carnoustie and lost the British Open in a playoff. Which collapse was worse? The team weighs in from Royal Lytham.


When people blow major championships in epic fashion they are said to pull a “Van de Velde.” Still, Adam Scott’s collapse was worse. Much worse.

I’ll admit it’s still a surprise to watch the highlights of Van de Velde’s meltdown in 1999 at Carnoustie. But this is a man whom  no one had heard of before the week and was unheralded. It’s not a surprise that a player with no experience caved to the pressure.

Scott is a world-class player. He’s one of the 10 best players of the last decade, he’s a winner of The Players Championship, he was once ranked No. 3 in the world and he won a World Golf Championship in impressive fashion 12 months ago. He’s on the short list of best players in golf who have not won a major. To bogey the last four holes of the British Open, when one par would assure a playoff, is mind-boggling. Van de Velde blew the last hole but still had a chance to win in a playoff. Scott didn’t make it to the playoff.

When unknown players do bizarre things, it doesn’t surprise me. When decorated players do things of this nature, it’s a bigger deal.


Jean Van de Velde’s collapse at the 1999 Open Championship was bigger than that of Adam Scott on Sunday – and it’s not even close.

We’ve all watched the excruciating video of Van de Velde attempting to successfully traverse the final hole at Carnoustie with a three-shot lead dozens of times. And on each occasion, a small part of us thinks: “Why didn’t he just 9-iron his way down the fairway and make an easy bogey?” No doubt the Frenchman has asked himself the same question every day since, instead living with the comedy of errors that occurred.

Scott did collapse at Royal Lytham & St. Annes – that much can’t be argued. Kicking away a four-shot lead by bogeying each of the final four holes may be the very definition of the word. But at no time during that four-hole stretch were conditions ever deemed easy.

On an increasingly brutal course, he made a few poor swings and had a few balky putting strokes, but never endured the, “Oh, no!” moment that encumbered Van de Velde.

After he was done, after he was awarded a second-place finish, Scott said he wouldn’t shed any tears over the loss. You couldn’t say the same for Van de Velde in '99.

Collapses leave players with heartache and disappointment. Major collapses make men cry.


Although dramatic, if not traumatic, Jan Van de Velde’s collapse in 1999 at Carnoustie was not unexpected; while everyone, including Adam Scott, expected the Australian to break through at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on Sunday – which makes it a bigger collapse.

And why wouldn’t they?

For 54 holes Scott was machine-like, artistic even. He opened with a 64 that flirted with a major-championship-record 62, followed with steady rounds of 67-68 and even when he bogeyed the first on Sunday there was no reason to think the train was coming off the tracks.

He made the turn with a 1-over 36, which considering the day’s scoring average was an adjusted even-par loop, and was 1 under through his first five holes on the inward nine. Four up with four to play with his only serious threat a charging South African who was a decade removed from his last major victory.

Scott was swinging with confidence and making the important putts before the Lytham wind or nerves or fate intervened. Even Scott was at a loss to explain his one-stroke loss to Ernie Els at the Open Championship.

“Once I was out there I felt completely in control,” Scott said. “Even the last few holes I didn't really feel like it was a case of nerves or anything like that.”

It was inexplicably shocking and a much bigger collapse than Van de Velde in ’99.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.