The Masters is not for the feint of heart. It takes nerves of steel to walk down the fairways of August National on Championship Sunday, seeing your name atop the leader board with the other greatest golfers on the planet, all of them trying to chase you down. It’s a lot of pressure!
Unsurprisingly, more than a handful of golfers — some of the best in the world, even — have completely blown it when the stakes were raised at The Masters, the most sought-after major championship in golf. We don’t even have to go back very far in history, either. The 2016 Masters featured Jordan Spieth taking a lead into the back nine on Sunday, only to cough it all up with a disastrous final few holes. That allowed relative unknown Danny Willett to capture his very first green jacket.
Spieth’s horrible meltdown was not the first in Masters’ history, nor will it be the last. See where he ranks in our list of 10 worst collapses in the last 30 years.
10. Brandt Snedeker – 2008
If there was a mirror Masters to the 2016 event, it was 2008. There were few more red scores in 2016, but on Sunday April 13, 2008, those rounds were fewer and further between. In the final pair that Sunday were Snedeker, playing in his first Masters as a pro, and South African Trevor Immelman. Snedeker was -8 for the tourney and two strokes behind his playing partner to start the day, but quickly pulled into a tie with an eagle on the par 5 No. 2 hole, Pink Dogwood. What should have been the impetus, however, to boost his game, turned out to be the high point. He would bogey the third, sixth, seventh, and ninth holes and record four more bogeys (and two birdies) on the back nine to fall way out of contention (he finished T-3). Immelman, despite a double-bogey on 16, hung on to win his first and only green jacket. Snedeker has not yet been able to shake the major tournament monkey off his back since then.
9. Scott Hoch – 1989
Scott Hoch’s collapse in the 1989 event wasn’t just one of the worst at Augusta, it was one of the worst in any major. Now in his 60s and playing on the Champions Tour, we’re sure Hoch still wakes up in a cold sweat from time-to-time after a nightmare replay of the events that unfolded for him 27 years ago. And just like in 2016 when Englishman Danny Willett benefited from an American’s bad luck, Nick Faldo reaped the rewards that year. Hoch opened up well in the first round, shooting a 69 to go into Friday two strokes back. He slipped a little on Friday, going two-over, but was still within two strokes of the lead. Rain forced a delay on Saturday but by Sunday morning, Hoch finished his third round with a 71 and entered Sunday one shot off the lead. Hoch and a few others, including Faldo, fought for the lead and in the end, Hoch-Faldo were destined for a playoff as both finished -5. In the first playoff hole, Hoch had a two-foot putt to win it and missed. Faldo won on the next hole.
8. Craig Parry – 1992
Augusta National has never been very kind to Australian golfers, that is until Adam Scott finally broke through in 2013. Craig Parry, who is now 50 and on the Champions Tour like Scott Hoch, is no doubt plagued with bad memories from his own sorry collapse at the 1992 Masters. That year, everyone went low as Augusta was yielding a ton of red scores. Parry took advantage too, firing rounds of 69-66-69 to hold a one-stroke lead over Fred Couples heading into the final round. Playing with Couples, Parry stretched that lead to three with a birdie on no. 2, while Couples bogeyed. It went all to heck from there, though, as Parry bogeyed no. 3, 4, 5 and 7 to fall two strokes off the lead. Even still, with 10 holes to play, he was still in the hunt, but Couples birdied nine and Parry again bogeyed on 10 and it was all downhill for him with two more bogeys to finish T-13, seven strokes back of winner Couples.
7. Ray Floyd – 1990
Not many players have benefited from the misfortune of others quite like Nick Faldo. A year after watching Scott Hoch slide a slam-dunk 24-inch putt by the hole on the first playoff hole in 1989 (and winning on the second), Faldo had a front row seat to 1976 champion Ray Floyd’s foibles in another playoff. Floyd, who was attempting to win a major in four different decades, went into Sunday at 10 under, two shots clear of playing partner John Huston, and three of Faldo. Faldo and Huston faltered early, both losing two more strokes each on the opening two holes. Floyd, however, failed to put a death grip on the lead and shot a 72 to Faldo’s 69, forcing a playoff. Both players shot par on the first playoff hole, but on the second (par-5 hole No. 11), Floyd dunked his approach into the water while Faldo shot par to secure his second straight green jacket.
6. Jeff Maggert and Len Mattiace – 2003
As finishes go, the playoff that Canadian Mike Weir won in 2003 was hardly the stuff of legends. However, the diminutive lefty won his first and only Masters that year, compliments of some poor shooting by not one, but two other PGA Tour professionals. Weir had a four-stroke lead on moving day, shooting 68, while Jeff Maggert hung on to the fringes at +1 and Len Mattiace nowhere to be seen. Maggert went low Saturday, shooting 66 to take the overall lead and Weir managed just a 75 to fall two shots back. Mattiace went three under to get to even and five shots off, with the usual suspects (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Vijay Singh) also in the mix. On Sunday, Mattiace fought his way into a tie with Weir, shooting 65 to Weir’s 68. Maggert, meanwhile, fell off the face of the earth with a 75, including a quintuple bogey eight on No. 12. Mattiace would melt down on the first playoff hole, the par-4 10th, shooting double bogey to hand the tourney to Weir, who holed his bogey putt.
5. Kenny Perry – 2009
Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. And there aren’t that many nicer guys on the tour than veteran Kenny Perry. Augusta National would leave Perry befuddled, bewildered, and just plain bummed out on a Sunday in 2009. Bidding to become the oldest champ at 48, Perry seemed to be in control, recording birdies at No. 11, 15, and 16 to hold a two-shot edge over Angel Cabrera and Chad Campbell, with two holes to play. However, his short game failed him on No. 17, where he bogeyed, and his drive on No. 18 landed in a bunker, leading to another bogey, setting up a three-way playoff. Perry’s bad timing continued into that playoff, where he bogeyed the second playoff hole (he only had four bogeys in the first 70 holes of the tournament), which Cabrera won with a par.
4. Rory McIlroy – 2011
Jordan Spieth has some good company in final round disasters by youngsters. Rory McIlroy, who was 21 during the 2011 Masters, just couldn’t hold it together on that Sunday, blowing a four shot lead with a final round 80. The Irish phenom blazed out to an early lead, shooting 65 on Thursday and then carded a 69 on moving day to hold the lead at -10. He was 2 under on Saturday and went into Sunday leading 2009 champ Angel Cabrera, K.J. Choi, Jason Day, and Charl Schwartzel by four strokes. Sunday, though, would be his undoing. He gave two strokes back to eventual champion Schwartzel on No. 1, going bogey five to the South African’s birdie three. Despite some up and down play, he still held the lead at the turn. He didn’t have a prayer, though, heading into Amen Corner. He triple bogeyed No. 10, bogeyed No. 11. and double bogeyed the iconic 12th to fall five shots off the lead by No. 13 and a terribly disappointing T15.
3. Greg Norman – 1986
We told you earlier that Masters history has been most unkind to Aussie golfers. The granddaddy of chokers from Oz, Greg Norman, is their poster boy. Not that he was a bad golfer. Quite the opposite, actually. It was just that Augusta National was anathema to him. The ’86 event started out well enough for Norman, who carded a 70 and 72 to place him three strokes off the lead going into Saturday. His 68 that day vaulted him into a one-shot lead over four players. On Sunday, while 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus sizzled to an unbelievable final round 65 to win his last green jacket, Norman coughed up a share of the lead on No. 10, double-bogeying the hole and allowing Nicklaus to get within one after a birdie. That double would loom large, since four straight birdies on No. 14, 15, 16, and 17 and a bogey on 18 saw him fall one shot short.
2. Jordan Spieth – 2016
Just how bad was Jordan’s crappy 12th hole? Stunningly, stupefyingly bad. On a day that should have seen him anointed as the just the third back-to-back winner and the bonafide world No. 1 player, Spieth joined the pantheon of infamous chokers with one horrible hole. Spieth sped out to the lead, firing a 66 on Thursday, followed by decent rounds of 74 and 73 on Friday and Saturday, as wind and crazy fast greens played havoc with scores, to take a one-stroke lead into Sunday. By the turn, Spieth was coming off four straight birdies and held a commanding five-stroke lead. He gave back two strokes with bogeys on No. 10 and No. 11 and then came No. 12. Perhaps he should have spoken to the big guy before Amen Corner. First, he dunked his drive on the iconic par-3 into the water. Then, he chunked his third badly from the penalty area, followed by a chip from the same spot that found a bunker at back of the green. Two shots later, he had a quadruple bogey seven and was a stroke back of eventual winner Danny Willett.
1. Greg Norman – 1996
Greg Norman’s horrible luck and mediocre play at several Masters’ tournaments is only matched by Nick Faldo’s good fortune and great play at Augusta. Just seven years after claiming an improbable win from the above-mentioned Scott Hoch, Faldo would shoot a superb 5-under 67 to claim his third green jacket. Norman, on the other hand, would fritter away his six-shot cushion over Englishman Faldo with a 78, continuing a disturbing Masters Sunday trend for him. Seeing Norman’s Masters boat take on water in 1996 was almost too much to take. The lowlights of his Sunday round included three straight bogeys heading into Amen Corner (holes No. 9-11) and then a double-bogey five at the par-3 12th when his first shot found water — sound familiar? The final nail in the coffin was his shank into the water at the par-3 16th, dooming him to yet another second-place finish.