Sebastian Soderberg’s Spectacular Blow Up Offers a Cruel Reminder as to How Difficult Winning Can Be

Every golf fan around the world would have winced at the scenes at last week’s Scandinavian Mixed tournament. 

Sebastian Soderberg headed out into the final round leading by eight strokes, but a disastrous last eighteen holes would see the Swede throw away victory.

Needing to avoid a bogey up the last hole, he agonisingly three putted from 25 feet, including missing a putt from just two feet to lose the tournament by one stroke. 

Soderberg’s spectacular final hole blow up reminded us all of how difficult winning as a professional can be. 

Despite the pain of his defeat, Soderberg can take some comfort from the fact that he isn’t the only player to have thrown away victory from a seemingly improbable position. 

In this article we take a look at five players who have shared a similar fate to Soderberg all of who will be etched into golfing history for all the wrong reasons.

Jean van de Velde - 1999 Open

Arguably the biggest blow up in the history of golf came at the 1999 Open. Played at Carnoustie, unheralded Frenchman Jean van de Velde had enjoyed a tremendous week and headed up the final hole holding a three shot lead over Paul Lawrie. 

Needing just a double bogey to secure the 1999 Open Championship, van de Velde’s issues began with a tee shot that missed the fairway and trundled into the rough. 

Rather than laying up for the victory, van de Velde went for glory. Opting not to lay up, he went for the green with his two iron and could only watch on as the ball would find its way into a burn that guarded the 18th green.

Climbing into the water, van de Velde seriously considered trying to hit his ball out of the burn before finally coming to his senses and taking a penalty drop.

Needing to get up and down to win, van de Velde’s fourth shot came up short and found the bunker. With the win looking unlikely, he knocked his shot from the sand to within six feet and duly sunk the putt to send the 1999 Open to a playoff.

With his head scrambled by the drama, it wasn’t to be for the enigmatic Frenchman who would go onto lose in the playoff to Lawrie. 

van de Velde’s spectacular blow up still remains one of the most dramatic moments in the sport.

Jean van de Velde - 1999 Open

Greg Norman throws away his shot at Masters immortality

At the 1996 Masters Greg Norman showed exactly why he was the best player in the world. Ruling Augusta, Norman would end the third round holding a six shot lead and a first major title on American shores looked to be well within his grasp. 

With many expecting Norman to easily cement his position at the top of the leaderboard, few would believe what would happen over the next few hours. 

A bogey on the opening hole did little to settle his nerves. Further dropped shots would follow on the 9th, 10th and 11th holes, before he would find the dreaded water on 12.

Now out of the lead, Norman tried to chase down new leader Nick Faldo but would do so unsuccessfully. Looking for a miracle, Norman’s tee shot on the 16th would end up meeting a watery grave and with it his chances were officially over. 

Despite the pain of his Masters blow up, Norman would end his career with two Major victories and over 90 professional wins.

Norman is one of the best players to have ever played the game, but that fateful afternoon at Augusta has tainted his legacy and cruelly is what he will be forever remembered for.

Arnold Palmer blows seven shot lead at 1966 U.S Open

Arnold Palmer will forever be immortalised in golfing circles. Credited for making golf popular for the everyday fan, few will go on to leave a mark on the game as Palmer successfully did. 

A winner of seven majors, that number could have been higher had Palmer held onto to win the 1966 U.S Open.

Starting the final round leading by four strokes, by the time that Palmer had made the turn his lead was stretched to seven strokes. The tournament seemed all but his, but Billy Caspar had other ideas.

With Caspar finding his touch with flat stick, the pressure began to tell on Palmer who dropped shots on the 10th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes. 

The two would end the day tied at the top of the leaderboard and would battle it out for the title the next day over an 18 hole playoff. 

Once again Palmer would find himself in front, leading by two with just eight holes to play, disaster would strike as Palmer would once again blow up on the back nine to lose by four strokes. 

Arnold Palmer blows seven shot lead at 1966 U.S Open

Europe seal greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history 

The 2012 Ryder Cup laid witness to one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sport.

A three day event held at Medinah, it was the Americans who dominated through the first two days of play. Blitzing their European rivals with superb play and feeding off the energy from a passionate home crowd, America led 10-4 with just two matches on Saturday left to play. 

Europe managed to wrestle some of the momentum back when Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald narrowly held off Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, but it would turn fully in their favour thanks to a superb effort from Ian Poulter.

Paired with Rory McIlroy, Poulter went on a five hole charge, posting five successive straight birdies to dramatically turn their match around against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson on the 18th hole.

Trailing 10-6 heading into the Sunday singles, European captain Jose Maria Olazabal sent out his big guns early and Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter all produced sensational victories to level the tie. 

With the pressure moved to the middle order, Paul Lawrie, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia all managed to put another point on the board and the comeback was well and truly on.

As defending champions, Europe knew that if the match would end in a tie it would be them who would retain the cup. Leading 13 - 12, it was Martin Kaymer who had an opportunity to secure another point and ensure that the Ryder Cup would remain in European hands.

Making no mistake from 6 feet, Kaymer sparked jubilant scenes and ensured that Europe couldn’t be beaten.

With Tiger Woods playing in the last match against Francesco Molinari, it was Woods who led by one stroke heading up the final hole and the 2012 edition of this famous tournament looked destined to end in a draw.

However, after missing a putt, Woods inexplicably conceded the hole to the Italian and ensured that Europe would go on to win the match outright. Unaware of the match situation it is something that Woods has spoken about with great regret.

The match would end 14.5 - 13.5 and will go down as one of the greatest Ryder Cups in history.

Jordan Spieth throws away 2016 Masters

Between 2014 and 2016 Jordan Spieth had the world of golf at his mercy. A winner of three major titles, including the 2015 Masters, at the 2016 Masters, Spieth looked on course to defend his title as he led by five shots heading into the back nine.

Approaching the tricky par 3 12th hole, the tournament and Spieth’s career would change forever.

Hitting his approach into the water, things would get worse as his second shot from the penalty area was chunked and also met a watery end.

Leaving the green with a quadruple bogey, two more dropped shots would follow and Englishman Danny Willet found himself in the lead.

With the tournament well and truly alive, Willet would go onto record a famous and unlikely victory. Despite putting a brave face on things, it could be argued that since that nightmare on the twelfth hole Spieth has never been the same since.