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Top 10 Worst Golf Chokes and Collapses


Phil Mickelson After Losing 2006 US Open

Phil Mickelson on the final green after blowing a chance to win the 2006 U.S. Open.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Choking is something that every golfer, even the greatest golfers (well, except for Jack Nicklaus), does at one time or another. Sometimes, the pressure just gets to you and you can't execute the shots you want to hit, or you start making poor decisions. (What's your worst choke? Tell us your tell of woe here.)

When those breakdowns happen late in big tournaments, they are remembered for a long time to come. The collapses on this list are such animals. Here are our picks for the 10 worst chokes or collapses in golf history (and after that, a few more famous ones):

10. Lorena Ochoa, 2005 U.S. Women's Open
Ochoa hit one of the worst drives ever at a critical time in a major tournament. It happened on the 18th hole at the 2005 U.S. Women's Open. She had rallied throughout the day from well back and was in position to win, or at least get into a playoff.

The 18th hole at Cherry Hills required the players to aim right, cutting off part of a lake and carrying the ball to the fairway. Ochoa's drive never even sniffed land.

Her driver hit the ground a couple inches behind the ball - taking a divot - then bounced up into the ball. The ball shot left and dove into the water. To make matters worse, Ochoa's second drive found the rough, then her approach to the green went into the grandstands. She quadruple-bogeyed No. 18 and finished four shots back.

9. Ed Sneed, 1979 Masters
Sneed was a solid player for many years and the 1979 Masters was his best shot at a major. He began the final round with a 5-stroke lead, and kept a lead of at least several strokes through most of the day.

Then, things fell apart. With a 3-shot lead and three holes to play, Sneed proceeded to bogey the 16th, 17th and 18th holes.

His par putts on 16 and 17 stopped right on the lip. On No. 18, Sneed again came agonizingly close. The par would have won him a Green Jacket. But with bogey - and a 76 total for the fourth round - Sneed fell into a playoff, which he lost to Fuzzy Zoeller.

8. Phil Mickelson, 2006 U.S. Open
Mickelson started his career 0-for-46 in majors, then changed his approach. He dialed back the aggression and started making much better course management decisions. And it paid off: He entered the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot going for his fourth career major and third in a row.

And he almost got it. But then he reverted to his previous form. His driver deserted him all through the final round (he even hit into a trash can on No. 17), yet he kept hitting it; and his decision-making deserted him on the final hole.

Mickelson had a 1-stroke lead as he stood on the 18th tee. Despite hitting only two fairways all day, he pulled the driver again. And again, he missed - only this time badly, his drive hitting the roof of a hospitality tent and bounding into the spectator area.

Mickelson had a decent lie, but a bad idea. Rather than advancing the ball a short distance but getting it back in the fairway - where he might make par the hard way, or, at worse, bogey to get into a playoff in which he'd be the heavy favorite - Mickelson attempted a huge slice under and around tree branches. It didn't work. The ball hit a branch and stopped 25 yards in front of him.

He hit another big slice, but this one plugged in a back bunker, and not even Mickelson's short-game magic could save him from there. He double-bogeyed and finished one shot out of a playoff.

"I am such an idiot," he succintly said afterward.

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