Tait: There's still time for Scott to win a major
2012 Open Championship: Sunday, in pictures
Check out final-round images from the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Adam Scott has to win a major. No two ways about it. It’s either that or enter an alternate hall of fame into which no one wants to be inducted.
Unless he wins one of the four career-defining tournaments, the affable Australian will join Ed Sneed, Jean Van de Velde, Doug Sanders, Scott Hoch, Colin Montgomerie and Thomas Bjorn in a sort of rogues' gallery of players to have blown majors.
As with the above players, Scott will be remembered not for finishing runner-up to Ernie Els in last week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham, but for blowing a four-shot lead with four holes to play.
It’s been 33 years since Sneed finished runner-up in the Masters, but everyone remembers how he bogeyed the last three holes to throw away the title. He lost in a playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller.
Sanders goes back even further. He missed “that” putt on the Old Course’s 18th hole in the 1970 Open Championship. There probably isn’t a day goes by that he isn’t reminded of it.
“I don’t think about it that much,” Sanders once said. “Sometimes I go a whole 10 minutes without thinking about it!”
The same can be said for Van de Velde at Carnoustie in 1999. Paul Lawrie has never received the credit he deserved for winning the Open that year. He never will. All anyone remembers is the image of Van de Velde standing with his trousers rolled up in the Barry Burn as a three-shot lead with one hole to play is washing away.
Montgomerie finished runner-up in five majors, but he should have won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. He would have done it had he made par up the last hole. After finding the fairway, Monty seemed certain to be able to make four, but he recorded a double bogey and lost by a shot to Geoff Ogilvy.
Hoch’s last name just happens to rhyme with the one word no sportsperson wants to hear. The tag “choke” was hung around his neck after he missed a 2-foot par putt on Augusta’s 10th green that would have won him the 1989 Masters. Instead he lost at the next hole, practically handing Nick Faldo his first green jacket.
Bjorn’s major mishap happened at Royal St. George’s in the 2003 Open when he needed three shots to escape a greenside bunker at the 16th hole. Take away two of those shots and he wins the Open Championship.
Take away two of Scott’s bogeys and he, too, becomes an Open champion. As with Montgomerie, you would have bet your house on Scott winning the title after he finished the 14th hole. A four-shot lead should have been enough to live up to Lee Trevino’s one-time quote.
“I want to get so far ahead that even if I choke, I’ll still win,” Trevino once said.
At age 32, Scott is young enough to come back from his Lytham letdown. The players above never did, although there is still some time for Bjorn.
Let’s hope Scott does bounce back and win one of the tournaments that matter, hopefully an Open Championship. He’s too good a player and too nice a man to be remembered for the way he played the last four holes in the 141st Open Championship.