2002: Lancaster’s final-hole flop hands Rollins 1st Tour title Markham, Ontario
Neal Lancaster knew exactly whom he felt like – even if he wasn’t exactly sure of his fellow forlorn golfer’s name.
“I guess I know how Jean-Claude van Damme feels, or whatever his name is,” Lancaster said Sept. 8 after his double bogey on the 18th hole of the Bell Canadian Open forced a three-way playoff and gave John Rollins the opening he needed for his first PGA Tour title.
There were plenty of similarities between Lancaster’s nightmare final hole of regulation at Angus Glen and Jean Van de Velde’s infamous 72nd-hole collapse in the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.
Rollins played the role of Paul Lawrie, closing with a bogey-free 65 to sneak into a playoff that never should have happened, then winning with a 20-foot birdie on the first extra hole.
“I’m sure somebody will figure out that I shot 66-65 on the weekend,” Rollins said. “No bogeys for 19 holes. I hope somebody looks back at that and sees how well I played.”
More likely, however, they’ll remember Lancaster’s shocking imitation of Van de Velde.
Sure, Van de Velde had a triple bogey, not a double, and the Canadian Open isn’t quite as prestigious as the British Open, but Lancaster’s final-hole collapse was just as swift and stunning.
“I feel like crawling under a rock right now,” said Lancaster, who had a final-round 72. “I feel real low. I feel embarrassed almost.”
And Justin Leonard, the third member of the playoff? Well, he played himself in what turned out to be a recurring role. Leonard, who bogeyed the 72nd hole at Carnoustie by hitting into the Barry Burn, also bogeyed the 72nd hole at Angus Glen by hitting it over the green, against the grandstand, leading to a drop in thick rough. And just as in 1999, he had by far the best resume of the three golfers in the playoff.
“I was probably a little more prepared for this than I was at Carnoustie because that was such a shock,” Leonard said. “But it certainly catches you off guard.”
More surprised was Rollins, who went from a tie for 13th at the start of the day into contention at 16-under 272. Forty-five minutes before his winning playoff putt, he called his wife to tell her he would probably finish second or third.
Rollins and Leonard trailed by two strokes as Lancaster – who made one bogey all week and had missed only two greens all day – stood in the 18th fairway with a 6-iron in his hands, 183 yards away. He needed only a bogey for his second Tour victory.
His approach shot finished 35 yards left of the flag, in thick rough behind a bunker. He chipped onto the green and three-putted for double bogey from 40 feet.
“The bottom line is I choked,” Lancaster said. “I told my caddie on the playoff hole, ‘Give me a ball and give me a bullet.’ I choked. I blew the golf tournament.”
– Staff and wire reports