The Missed Tiddlers That Proved Costly
THEY say that putting is a game within a game, and it is certainly true that short missed putts attract attention for all the wrong reasons, especially when they come at the business end of a golf tournament.
Lexi Thompson came to the final green during the 2017 season ending CME Group Tour Championship and was bogey-free on six-under par for her round. She rolled her 60-foot putt to within two feet of the hole, leaving her a tap-in to take the clubhouse lead. Her putt didn't even touch the hole. Playing two groups behind her, Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn hit her approach shot to 20 feet and rolled in the putt to finish birdie-birdie and win the $500,000 first prize. That missed putt cost Thompson not only the tournament but the chance of being named Rolex Player of the Year.
Here we look at 10 of the shortest putts missed at crucial moments in some of the world's biggest golf tournaments.
I K KIM, Dinah Shore 2012
It is possible that IK Kim missed the shortest putt ever to win a major. It came at the 2012 Dinah Shore at Mission Hills. Kim had played quite superbly and came to the final hole, leaving herself a putt of no more than 12 inches to win the tournament. Inexplicably, she missed the hole and found herself in a playoff with Sun Young Yoo. Kim went to the tee with her mind all over the place and it was no surprise that Yoo won on the first extra hole, draining an 18-foot birdie putt to break Kim's heart.Doug Sanders, The Open, 1970
This may be the most famous short putt missed to win a major. The colourful Sanders had battled with the great Jack Nicklaus for 71 holes at St Andrews and came to the 18th hole and left himself a 30-inch putt to win The Open. After lining up the putt, he bent down to remove an imaginary piece of grass. Rather than lining up the putt again, he stood over the ball and missed. He lost an 18-hoie playoff to Nicklaus the following day.Scott Hoch, The Masters, 1989
Hoch had a reputation as a dodgy putter but he managed to conquer his woes at Augusta in 1989, holing a number of outrageous putts and forcing his way into a playoff with Nick Faldo. On the second playoff hole, Hoch had a putt of no more than two feet to win the Green Jacket. Faldo had given up. Sadly, so had Hoch - he missed the putt. Faldo holed a 25-footer on the next to win The Masters for the first time.Retief Goosen, US Open, 2001
The South African twice won the US Open. In 2001 at Southern Hills he putted like an angel for 71 holes. He would be the first to admit that it was only his putting that kept him in contention, and when he came to the 18th hole and left himself a two-feet putt to win nobody expected what happened next. Goosen missed and finished up in an 18-hole playoff with Mark Brooks. He did, at least, have the consolation of winning the playoff the next day.
Stewart Cink, US Open, 2001
There was something in the air at Southern Hills in 2001. American Stewart Cink, who would later win The Open and built his reputation as a fine putter, came to the final hole and put his third shot 15 feet from the hole. He needed to hole the putt for what he thought was a par that he needed to win, ran the ball 18 inches past and, thinking he had blown his .chance, took no time over the short putt. He missed it, ran up a double-bogey and missed out on the playoff by a shot.
Craig Stadler, Ryder Cup, 1985
Stadler was renowned for his volcanic temper and suspect temperament. On the second day of the 1985 Ryder Cup, Stadler and Curtis Strange were playing Sandy Lyle and Bernhard Langer in the fourballs and came to the final hole leading the European pair one up. With Strange out of the hole, Stadler was left with a 14-inch putt to win the match. He expected it to be conceded but Longer and Lyle looked the other way. A miffed Stadler walked up to the ball and was clearly furious - so much so that he missed the putt.
Hubert Green, The Masters, 1978
Green was one shot adrift of Gary Player, who shot a final round of 64 at Augusta and was safely in the clubhouse waiting to find out if anybody could catch him. Green hit a brilliant approach to the final hole, with his ball finishing three feet from the hole. He needed to hole it for a birdie and force a playoff. As he bent over his putt he heard a radio announcer telling his listeners that Green had to hole the putt. He backed off, settled over the putt again. And missed.
Ben Hogan, The Masters, 1946
Hogan may well have been the best ball striker the game of golf has ever seen. Sadly, the same could not be said of his putting. He was afflicted with the yips early in his career, but such was the quality of the rest of his game that he won nine majors. During the 1946 Masters, he trailed Herman Keiser by a shot as he came to the final hole. Hogan struck his approach to 12 feet and knew that he needed to hole it to force a playoff. He rolled it 30 inches beyond the cup and missed the tiddler.
Hale Irwin, The Open, 1983
No list of missed tiddlers would be complete without Hale Irwin's famous "whiff". During The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1983, the American was in his prime and was in contention. He left his approach putt at the 14th on the edge of the hole during the third round and flicked his putter at the ball, but missed it completely. Irwin would end up losing to Tom Watson by a single shot - in effect, that air shot with his putter cost him The Open.
Phil Mickelson, The Open, 2011
Mickelson was on fire during the final round of The Open at Royal St George's in 2011, starting with five birdies in seven holes to grab a share of the lead with Darren Clarke. Then he came to the 11th hole and left himself a two-foot par putt. Incredibly, one of the best putters in the business missed it, sparking a run of four bogeys in six holes. Clarke won the tournament.
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