Meltdowns in majors are all different

By John HawkinsJuly 24, 2012, 3:00 pm

Jean Van de Velde’s 72nd-hole collapse at the 1999 British Open had a mythological quality to it, unfolding in the Scottish mist like one of those Charlie Chaplin movies from the 1920s. The lasting moments of regulation play at Carnoustie that day were defined more by comedy than tragedy. Van de Velde actually seemed to be posing for photographers when he hopped into the burn barefoot to contemplate his fourth shot.

Without question, it remains the most bizarre scene I have witnessed as a golf writer. A total unknown on the verge of the impossible, then booting it away in such a theatrical manner, all while sporting a mischievous smirk – it was almost as if Van de Velde were pulling off the biggest prank in sports history.

Adam Scott’s collapse at Royal Lytham obviously was very different: an established and decorated player on a far more playable course – even if he’d bogeyed Carnoustie’s 18th, Van de Velde would have won by two strokes at 4 over par. Scott needed four holes and the better part of an hour to blow his big lead, which made it seem more nerve-induced. Van de Velde’s folly took about 20 minutes and seemed more like a collision with reality.


Which collapse was worse: Van de Velde's or Scott's?


That said, the Frenchman holed a 6-footer for a triple bogey, which got him into a playoff with Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard. Scott had a slightly longer par putt to force extra holes and missed. I’m not sure how you rank late meltdowns by guys about to win a major championship, but Scott, given the quality of his play through 14 holes and the variety of mistakes he made on the last four, was certainly the harder to watch.

There was a time or two when you might have wondered if Van de Velde truly wanted to win the tournament, as if he considered himself unworthy. Scott suddenly began laboring with his big advantage, much like Greg Norman did at the 1996 Masters, but that was a very different situation: a guy with a negative history playing alongside the only man who could possibly catch him – one of the wiliest and most strategtically sound competitors ever.

Norman’s six-shot lead was gone by the 12th tee. He was basically toast by the 13th green. The notion that Scott is Norman’s protégé and a fellow Australian doesn’t fly here; pressure doesn’t care about your nationality or background. Besides, the Shark was burdened by his past. Scott had no such scar tissue and performed like a champion until the 15th hole.

Watching Sunday’s gloomy homestretch with several thousand people on a live chat, what struck me was how the audience had barely shrunk a full hour after play ended. Most chat numbers take a serious hit after Tiger Woods finishes, or once the final outcome is official. This was golf-fan rubbernecking at its finest – people sticking around to absorb the ramifications of the accident, assess the damage and search for perspective.

You can’t give up a four-shot lead with four to play unless you make a series of errors, which Scott did, but it wasn’t until the 18th that he hit a bad tee shot. A poor approach and short miss for par at the 16th, then a dumbfounding blunder with an iron into the 17th, where he missed long and left – what began with a seemingly innocuous bogey at the 15th morphed into something very troublseome within two holes, at which point mental mistakes began amplifying Scott’s struggles.

The biggest occurred with the club selection on that 18th tee. Scott had hit an iron there the day before, leaving him well short of the bunkers and 173 yards in – probably a stock 8-iron for him. How on earth can caddie Steve Williams let his guy pull out a 3-wood and plant it in the face of one of those sand pits?

It made no sense, particularly when you consider how well Scott had hit his driver all week. If you’re playing for the win, go ahead and smash the big stick down there past the trouble and get yourself a wedge in. The 3-wood was the club most likely to bring a bogey into play, although it’s fair to say Scott was leaking too much oil for anything to come easily.

I don’t like giving caddies too much credit in victory, so I’ll avoid blaming Williams in defeat, but it was an illogical decision both men may live to rue. As ultra-gracious as Scott was after the collapse, I wasn’t surprised, having covered the kid from his early days as a Tour pro and dealing with him directly after several of his biggest wins.

He is as gentlemanly a guy as you’ll find, polite and courteous far beyond the norm, but there’s a part of me that wishes Scott had walked into the awards ceremony and busted something, forsaking his valor for the better part of dour. Blowing a four-stroke lead with four holes to play at the British Open is supposed to hurt. There’s noting wrong with letting people see your pain.

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.