The U.S. Open is one of those majors that is truly an accomplishment for a professional to win. The difficulty and pressure to succeed at such an important venue does not come without some heartbreaks. These 5 golfers know firsthand what it’s like to come so close only to collapse in the end.
Although time may separate them, their heartbreaks are all the same:
Roland Hancock came devastatingly close to winning the 1928 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields. He led by two shots with two holes to play and needed only a pair of 5s to win when he fell apart. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
He drove into mud behind a tree, topped his next shot into deep rough, took two more to get to the green and made double bogey. Then on the last hole he missed a 20ft par putt to miss joining Bobby Jones and Johnny Farrell (the winner) in a playoff by one stroke. Hancock never made a U.S. Open cut after that.
Colin Montgomerie has had quite a few U.S. Open shortcomings. He lost in a three-way playoff at Oakmont in 1994, and two years later he missed a 5-foot par putt on the 17th hole at Congressional and finished one behind Ernie Els.
It wasn’t until 2006 at Winged Foot that he truly felt the sting of an opportunity lost. He was in the 18th fairway with a 7-iron in his hand when Monty chunked it so badly that he exclaimed, ”What the hell was that?” He three-putted for a double bogey and finished one behind Geoff Ogilvy. ”I look forward to coming back next year and try another U.S. Open disaster,” he said.
Sam Snead lost the U.S. Open in 1947 due to what I think of as unsportsmanlike conduct. Snead was facing Lew Worsham in a playoff when Worsham asked a referee to check that Snead was in fact away on the green.
Not only was this not match play but having the ref take out a ruler and measure a half an inch difference is ridiculous. I understand that it is a major but Snead was ready to tap in when he asked, messing up whatever concentration he must have had before hand. He ended up missing the putt while Worsham made it in to win. Snead recalls that day saying, ”I was so mad I couldn’t see straight.”
Dustin Johnson’s heartbreak is still fresh as it happened only last year at the 2015 U.S. Open. Johnson was up against Jordan Spieth when the uneven greens at Chambers Bay lead to his downfall.
He was on the 18th green leading with an eagle putt to win when it snaked by a few inches past the hole. He ended up missing the birdie putt to force a playoff and three putted to bogey the 18th and give the trophy to Jordan Spieth.
Phil Mickelson is the king of heartbreak when it comes to the U.S. Open. He holds the record for six runner-up finishes and only needs this major to complete the grand slam. He was beaten by Payne Stewart (1999), Tiger Woods (2002), Retief Goosen (2004), Geoff Ogilvy (2006), Lucas Glover (2009) and Justin Rose (2013).
The one where he suffered the most had to have been the same one as Monty at Winged Foot in 2006. Instead of using his unmatched wedge game, Mickelson ended up going for the green on the 18th hole with a 3-iron. He carded a double bogey in what could have been the U.S. Open win of his career.
”I just can’t believe that I did that,” he said. ”I am such an idiot.”