Scott or Van de Velde: Bigger Open collapse?


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.