Courses & Travel

The 9 Worst Shots in Golf History

Deep Thoughts: Gary Player Recalls His Worst Golf Moment
Gary Player has had no shortage of career highlights, but ask him to pick a lowlight and one memory stands out.

Amateurs aren’t the only ones who have hacked their way through history. Tour pros have hit their share of flubs and foozles, too. Here’s a recap of 9 of the worst shots ever struck by some of the best in the game.

Greg Norman, 1986 Masters

Never mind his implosion at the ’96 Masters, Greg Norman says the “biggest regret” of his career was his final full swing at Augusta a decade before. Needing only par from the fairway on 18 to force a playoff with Jack Nicklaus, Norman fanned a six-iron into no-man’s land right of the green, then failed to execute a testy up and down. Green jacket for the Bear, and a near miss for the Shark -- the first of many major heartbreaks to come.

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I.K. Kim, 2012, Kraft Nabisco Championship

For I.K. Kim, the most important distance in golf wasn’t the five inches between her ears. It was the 14 inches between her ball and the cup on the 18th hole on Sunday. Tap it in and she would claim the title. But no. Horseshoe. The crowd gasped in disbelief, Kim clamped her hand over her mouth in horror, and, four strokes later, Sun-Young Yoo put Kim out of her misery with a birdie for the win on the first playoff hole.

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Scott Hoch, 1989 Masters

As if blowing a two-footer in a playoff that would have earned him a green jacket weren’t punishment enough, the guy has a surname ripe for mocking headlines. Our sympathies to Scott “The Choke” Hoch.

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Phil Mickelson, 2006 U.S. Open

Fore Lefty! Though Phil Mickelson has often seemed snake-bitten at the U.S. Open, most of his wounds have been self-inflicted. And none cut deeper than that masochistic moment on the 18th tee. Leading by a shot, Mickelson opted for the aggressive play and block-sliced his drive wild left, a mistake he compounded by bonking his recovery shot off a tree: double-bogey and a bridesmaid finish, the fourth of Lefty’s six runner-up finishes in the event. “I still can’t believe I did that,” Mickelson said afterwards. Neither can we.

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T.C. Chen, 1985 U.S. Open

At the ’85 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, T.C. Chen led by four shots on the fifth hole on Sunday when he chipped his golf ball. Twice. To make matters worse, he did that in the course of just one swing. His double-whack, along with the penalty shot it carried, led to a quadruple bogey 8 that erased Chen’s advantage over eventual winner Andy North.

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Sam Snead, 1939 U.S. Open

Arriving at the docile par-five 18th on Sunday, Snead needed only par to win. “What happened next,” he recalled some 50 years later, “has haunted me ever since.” As if his snap-hook off the tee weren’t surprising enough, Snead followed up his errant drive by topping a three-wood into the fairway bunker. By the time his butchery of the hole was over, he’d carded a triple-bogey 8. Hey, it’s golf. Even Slammin’ Sammy wasn’t immune.

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Doug Sanders, 1970 British Open

They called him the Peacock, but Sanders wasn’t strutting after botching a 30-inch putt on 18 for the win. He lost to Nicklaus by a shot in an 18-hole playoff, and left the grounds feeling more like an ostrich, looking for someplace to stick his head in the sand.

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Ian Baker-Finch, 1995 British Open

On his first shot of the tournament, while paired with Arnold Palmer, Baker-Finch uncorked a snap-hook to end all snap-hooks, a drive so wild it missed not one fairway but two, crossing over the adjacent 18th hole and bounding out of bounds into the road, passing white stakes that many had never even noticed before.

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Tiger Woods, 2014 Hero World Challenge

The beginning of the end? We knew about the injuries, the scandal and the swing changes. But it wasn’t really until his sad performance at his own event that the depths of Tiger’s woes came into full relief. One chunk. Two chunks. Three chunks. More. Four rounds and nine outright flubs later, it became grimly apparent: the greatest player of his era hadn’t merely lost his mojo. He’d lost his nerve.

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