Golf is hard. The highest score ever recorded on one hole in the history of the game is 23. Ray Ainsley scored +19 on the par-4 16th hole at Cherry Hills during the 1938 U.S. Open. Other notables that would probably prefer not be noted are Tommy Armour with his 23 on a par 5 at the 1927 Shawnee Open, John Daly’s 18 on Bay Hill’s par-5 6th in 1998, and most recently a 16 on the 9th hole at TPC San Antonio in 2011 by Kevin Na.
You will not make this putt Hubert Green held a one-stroke lead through 14 holes of the final round of the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills. As he walked to the 15th tee he was notified by officials that they received a death threat towards him. Someone called saying he would be shot when he reached the 15th green. Green was given the option of clearing the course of all players and spectators and resuming play the next day. He denied that notion and finished the round being accompanied by 9 armed police officers. He won the Open by one stroke, even making birdie on 16. Rumor was that it was a gambler with mafia ties who made the call. And you thought the U.S. Open at Winged Foot was challenging.
Q School, more like Screw School The old format of PGA Tour Qualifying School has so many heartbreaking stories in itself that books have been written about it. And those books should be found in the horror section at Barnes & Noble. If you were lucky enough to get through all the stages you were rewarded with 6 straight days of grueling golf for the finals. Journeyman Joe “Don’t call me John” Dailey was playing the final day of the final stage back in 2001, when his 4-foot putt on 18 fell in, hit the back of the cup, and popped out. The ball had hit the top edge of the cup liner which had become dislodged. He missed qualifying for the PGA Tour by 1 stroke, and sadly he never did qualify for the tour after that.
War by the Shore At the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, American Mark Calcavecchia was 4-up with 4 holes to play in Sunday singles against Colin Montgomerie. Calc lost all 4 holes, which included a shank and a missed 2 footer on 17. After the match he made a beeline to the beach for some tear-filled alone time.
The Shark…sunk What’s a list of golf’s most horrific collapses and mishaps without a mention of Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters? The Shark is golf’s king of “what should’ve” and “the one that got away”, and he headed into the final round at Augusta in ’96 with a 6-stroke lead over Nick Faldo. Well Faldo shot 67, and Norman fired a 78 and lost. I was 14 years old and my grandpa and I watched the entire final round in disbelief, both rooting for Greg. Their walk up 18 was reminiscent of a funeral march and I learned at a young age just how brutal this game can be.
Happy Birthday At the 1968 Masters, Roberto DiVicenzo bogeyed the 72nd hole and all was assumed that he had just fell into a tie and upcoming playoff with Bob Goalby. But playing partner Tommy Aaron marked Roberto for a 4 on #17 instead of his birdie 3, and they turned in an incorrect scorecard. The officials informed both men that once the card is signed it becomes official and the green jacket was awarded to Goalby. Ironically, Goalby discovered a scoring error he had made in his group with Raymond Floyd and they corrected it before signing. To make matters worse, it was DiVicenzo’s 45th birthday. “What a stupid I am” was his famous quote after the round.
The Gimmie That Wasn’t At the 1989 Masters, Scott Hoch found himself in a playoff with Nick Faldo. Faldo made a bogey 5 on the first playoff hole and Hoch stood over a 2 ½ footer for the par and the win. Unsure of whether to hit it firm or play the break, his brain shut down and he did both…knocking it 4 feet past the hole. He made that one but lost on the very next hole.
Birdies and the Bees During the 2nd round of the 2014 Mayback Malaysian Open, Pablo Larrazabal was attacked by a swarm of hornets and stung more than 20 times. He ditched hit shirt and jumped in a nearby lake to escape. After the on-site first aid team administered some injections, he somehow collected himself and birdied the hole.
Lighten Up It was an electric atmosphere at the 1975 Western Open outside of Chicago. During a 2nd round rain delay, Lee Trevino, Bobby Nichols, and Jerry Heard were sitting on their bags with umbrellas in hand. Suddenly all 3 players were struck by lightning and sent to the hospital. Heard had burned his groin area and Trevino had exit marks on his left shoulder where the surge actually left his body.
Fantasy Picks 2 of my 3 picks fared well last week at the ZOZO as Niemann and Schauffele both tied for 17th. Tiger however struggled, finishing just -1 for the week. He did manage a 66 on Saturday but he never really had his game as he is playing and practicing way less these days. But it is still a joy and a pleasure to watch him whenever he tees it up and I still think he’ll contend in 3 weeks at the Masters. Let’s head to paradise first for the Bermuda Championship. Winner Peter Malnati Runner-up at Sanderson and 5th at Shriners. He leads the tour in Strokes Gained Putting. Will contend Charley Hoffman Four top 15’s and a top-25 in his last 9 starts. Sleeper Aaron Wise T-3 last year and lead the field in all-around strokes.
Written by Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional