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Press Pass Biggest Chokes in Sports


Press PassEach week, GOLF CHANNEL experts and analysts offer their thoughts and opinions on hot topics in the world of golf with the Press Pass.
Hot Topic
If Phil Mickelson has a one-shot lead playing the 18th Sunday at Carnoustie, will he win the Open Championship?
Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
The short answer is: yes. But if the wind is blowing 50 miles an hour and the 18th is playing to a stroke average of, say, 4.9 that day, he will not make par. If he bogeys, and he's in a playoff; and if Tiger is one of the players in the playoff; and if Tiger had a share of the 54-hole lead, Phil will not win.
Steve Sands Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
Yes, Phil will win the Open if he has a one-shot lead Sunday on 18. He has won three major championships and knows how to close in big situations. He didn't last week at Loch Lomond. He didn't earlier in the season at the Nissan Open. But I think he'll get the job done at Carnoustie if the scenario arises.
Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
For his sake, I hope so. If given the opportunity, I think Phil will get it done this time around. But I don't say (or write) that with 100-percent confidence.
Mark Rolfing Mark Rolfing - Analyst, GOLF CHANNEL:
That is a really hard question. If the outcome is only in his hand the answer is: yes he will win.
Hot Topic
What, if any collapse in all of sports is comparable to Jean Van de Veldes in the 1999 Open Championship?
The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies led the National League (there weren't divisions then) by six-and-a-half games over Cincinnati with 12 to play. St. Louis beat out both of them. The New York Giants led the National League by 12-and-a-half games as late as Aug. 13 in 1951 and lost out to the Giants. In golf, Norman's forced march to defeat against Faldo in the 1996 Masters was pretty painful to watch.
The Yankees blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Red Sox a few years ago comes to mind. John McEnroe losing a 2-0 lead to Ivan Lendl at the French Open final in the '80s. The Pacers' crazy comeback at MSG in the playoffs in the mid '90s when the Knicks had a huge lead with under a minute to go before Reggie Miller led Indiana back. But none compare to '99 at Carnoustie. That was the biggest collapse I can remember in any sporting event of that magnitude.
The first thing that came to my mind was Jana Novotna in the 1993 Wimbledon finals. She was one point away from taking a 5-1 lead in the deciding set against Steffi Graf, but thoroughly choked to a 4-6 loss. Afterwards, she wept in the arms of the Duchess of Kent. Two years later in the third round of the French Open, she was up 5-0, 40-0 in the third set against a teenager and lost 6-8. That may be the biggest collapse I've ever witnessed, even though it wasn't as dramatic as her Wimbledon finals' loss.
Greg Norman at the Masters in 1996. It took longer but was probably more painful.
What is your favorite Open Championship moment?
Willie Park winning the first one in 1860. Lincoln was still in the White House and not yet on the five-dollar bill. You could look it up.
If it's truly 'a moment,' then the finish in '99 at Carnoustie has to be it, unfortunately. There are certainly more positive memories but none are more famous, nor infamous, than that one. It was Must See TV.
Nothing beats what transpired in 1999. Aside from that moment, I would say Tiger Woods breaking down after his victory just last year in the arms of his caddie and family.
1995 Costantino Rocca at the 72nd hole at St. Andrews. He chili-dipped a shot in front of the 18th green and then holed an 85-foot putt down, through and over the Valley of Sin to tie John Daly.
What is the ONE thing you are most looking forward to at the Open Championship?
Bad weather. The Open Championship, to me, isn't the Open Championship unless the flags are stiff as boards and the flagsticks are almost doubled over.
The Open has always been my favorite tournament to watch on television because it just looks different than every other week. At least one day I hope it blows 40 mph, is cold and has rain going sideways. Makes lying in bed in your boxers watching while under the covers awfully comfortable.
Waking up early to watch golf. The best thing about the Open Championship -- when you're not in attendance -- is being able to wake up early and watch LIVE coverage. And fortunately for me, I get paid to watch it while I'm at work.
I hope the course is not set up the way it was in 1999. I want the man who plays the best golf to win.
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