Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Most Famous Meltdowns in Sporting History!

There’s a famous saying about sports, that it’s the perfect platform to illustrate the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. That’s a very true statement, and sometimes we forget just how fine a line there really is between those two things. The thrill for one side equals agony for the other, and anyone who has played sports can tell you that losing is never easy. In some cases, the agony of defeat is especially strong.

Jordan Spieth's infamous collapse in the final round of the US Masters on Sunday brings to mind so many others in the world of sports that I thought I'd bring you 10 of my favorite meltdowns and collapses in sporting history, just for fun!

Spieth had a five-stroke lead when he came to the 10th hole on Sunday. But two straight bogeys followed by a disastrous quadruple bogey on the par-3 12th suddenly had him behind by three strokes, a deficit from which he could never recover.

The 22-year-old Texan had been poised to win his second straight Masters and third major in his last five tournaments. Instead, he had to place the green jacket on Yorkshire born winner Danny Willett, who became only the second Englishman ever to win the US Masters at Augusta National.


It was all in the balance when South Africa needed nine to win from the final over of their semi-final against Australia with one wicket remaining. The two men batting for the Proteas could not have been more different. One was Lance Klusener. The burly power hitter who had probably been the player of the tournament up to that point and was sitting on 23 from 12 balls. At the other end was Allan Donald, one of the best fast bowlers to ever play for his country, but who sadly, couldn’t bat to save his life.

Luckily for the Rainbow Nation, the talismanic Klusener was on strike and stroked the first two balls of the over for four, tying the match and making sure South Africa only needed one run from the last four deliveries to make a first World Cup final.

They only lasted two thanks to a hilarious run-out in which Klusener sprinted down the pitch whilst Donald stood his ground, realised what was going on, dropped his bat and trotted down the pitch to be run out by some distance. Match tied, Australia advanced due to a higher finishing position in the previous stage.


With a chance to widen their lead at the top of the table to 11 points with only five games remaining, Manchester United visited a relegation threatened Wigan Athletic side that had only won three of their last 17 games and had lost all 13 matches they had with played with United since their promotion to the Premier League in 2005.

Following Man City's 4–0 win over West Bromwich Albion, United's lead at the top of the table was cut to five points. United rebounded in their following match at Old Trafford, beating Aston Villa 4–0.

United were back at Old Trafford for their next fixture, against mid-table Everton. Despite holding a 3–1 lead and then later a 4–2 lead, United blew the chance to take all three points by conceding two late goals, resulting in their lead at the top of the table being cut to just 3 points heading into the pivotal Manchester derby.

The next game was the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium, with the match finishing 1–0 in favour of City. This caused City to lead the table by goal difference, which handed control of the title race over to their “noisy-neighbours.”

In this case however, the champions-elect never showed up and were unable to break Wigan down on their way to a 1-0 defeat. They dropped further points in a thrilling 4-4 draw with Everton having been two goals up with just seven minutes to play. Then United fell to a narrow defeat to at the hands of cross-town rivals City in a match which handed control of the title race over to their 'noisy-neighbours.'

On the final day of the season, Manchester United beat Sunderland and City were trailing 2-1 entering stoppage time against relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers (and needing a victory to win their first league title for 44 years). Edin Dzeko equalized in the 92nd minute and then Sergio Aguero smashed home the winner in the 94th minute to snatch the Barclays Premier League crown from Manchester United's grasp in a quite incredible finale!


Van de Velde was an obscure pro golfer from France, who stormed to a commanding lead in the final round of the Open at Carnoustie in 1999, and strode to the 18th tee needing only a double bogey six, on a par-four closing hole, to win the major, which would have made him the first Frenchman to do so since 1907.

The engraver, thinking that the Open was in the bag, started to inscribe Van de Velde's name on the claret jug. However a series of poor decisions turned a comfortable three-stroke lead into a three-way play-off with Justin Leonard and eventual winner Paul Lawrie.

His choice of a driver off the tee was dubious, but not nearly as poor as the decision to go for the green instead of laying up on his second shot, which ricocheted backward 50 yards off a stone wall into severe rough. From there, he dunked his third shot into the Barry Burn, which he briefly considered trying to play out of before taking a drop (and ensuing penalty) and sending shot No. 5 into a greenside bunker. He wound up with a triple-bogey seven, when a six would have given him the title.

To make this collapse even more cataclysmic, Lawrie was ten shots off the lead at the start of play on that final day – making his victory the biggest comeback in major golf history.

The closest van de Velde ever came to winning a major again was tying for 19th at the Masters the following year and 19th again at the British Open in 2008.


The 34th America's Cup was a series of boat races held on San Francisco Bay between the defender Oracle Team USA representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club, and the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Oracle Team USA, with Sir Ben Ainslie on board as tactician, completed one of the most remarkable sporting comebacks of all time, trouncing Team New Zealand by 44 seconds in their winner-takes-all finale in San Francisco. The American defenders came back from an 8-1 deficit to win eight consecutive races and claim victory in the first-to-nine series.

The defeat was all the more galling for New Zealanders because Oracle's skipper Jimmy Spithill hailed from their bitter arch-rivals Australia.

It has been labelled the greatest comeback in the history of sport, matched only by one of sport's greatest chokes!


Most Red Sox fans were of the belief that they’d never see a World Series title, particularly after the gut punch of the 1986 World Series. When the New York Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the 2004 American League Championship Series, Boston fans just chalked it up as yet another disappointment, and Yankee fans were planning on raising yet another banner. And then came Game 4, and Dave Roberts made his mark in baseball lore, sparking what would become the most epic meltdown in baseball history.

The steal by Roberts started the rally that would not only give the Sox a victory in Game Four, but would begin a snowball effect that resulted in four straight wins, including a decimation at Yankee Stadium in which Boston jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings and never looked back, on their way to an eventual World Series championship. So, while the Sox have had some historic meltdowns of their own over the years, at least Boston fans can take solace in the fact that they helped their arch rivals achieve arguably the greatest choke job in sports history. Before 2004, no baseball team that led a series 3-0 had ever lost a seven-game series. The Yankees remain the only ones to do so.


Chances are pretty good that, if you enter the final round of a golf tournament boasting a six-stroke lead, you have to like your odds of winning said tournament. Greg Norman probably woke up on Sunday of the 1996 Masters feeling pretty confident for precisely this reason, as he found himself with a score of 13 under par, while the next closest competitor, Nick Faldo, was sitting at seven under.

What unfolded in that fourth and final round of the Masters will live on in infamy, and has forever tainted Norman’s otherwise-stellar career. After shooting an astounding 63 in the opening round, followed by strong rounds of 69 and 71, Norman was on the verge of being a wire-to-wire leader and Masters champion. It looked like Norman would romp to victory. Except Norman was the one getting romped. The Aussie shot a 78 in that final round including three bogeys and two double bogeys in an eight-hole span, while Faldo shot a 67 as the gap between the two swung by a staggering 11 strokes, with Norman going from leading by six strokes to ultimately losing by five.

Faldo won the tournament for the third time. It was the sixth and final major victory of his career.
Norman would finish his career just two major championships, both at the British Open.


With the scores level at 6-6 against England at Murrayfield, and with just 15 minutes of the match remaining Scotland were awarded a penalty inside the England 22, just right of centre. For Hastings this should have been a relatively straightforward penalty attempt, that could have earned Scotland a place in the Rugby World Cup final of 1991.
But the Edinburgh born goal-kicker missed, pushing it wide on the right and the score remained tied until Rob Andrew's late drop goal nicked it for England.

England had reached their first World Cup final, Scotland have never got as close again.


The Queen Mother's horse was only forty yards from the finishing line at Aintree racecourse with a five-length lead on 24th March 1956, when he inexplicably jumped into the air and landed on his stomach. Jockey Dick Francis was unable to make him continue which allowed E.S.B to claim victory. The reason behind Devon Loch's jump is still uncertain to this day. For jockey Dick Francis, his mount's bizarre collapse on the run-in to victory in the world's most famous steeplechase remained a "terrible memory, even after all these years."

Devon Loch's was not the first time a horse had seemed to jump some form of 'ghost fence' on the run in of the National. In 1901, Arthur Nightingall's race was well won on board Grudon when his mount also made to jump a fence that wasn't there. On that occasion the pair recovered and had sufficient time to continue and win the race.

The Queen Mother famously said, “Oh that’s racing.”
Dick Francis retired from the sport the following year and became a crime writer!


Sport's perennial runner-up, 'The Whirlwind' lost all six of his World Championship snooker finals, four of them to his ice-cool nemesis Stephen Hendry.

Among White's more spectacular chokes were losing 18-14 after leading 14-8 in 1992, and missing a routine black at 17-17 in the deciding frame in 1994.


The Leicestershire cricketer was man of the match in the 2001 Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy semi-final, but he made headlines for different reasons in the final against Somerset.

Most cricket fans will remember what happened nest. Many of the rest of you may know about it from YouTube. The video is called "The Worst Over Ever?" Six of his first eight balls were wides. There were, at one point, five in a row, some flew to slip, others flew towards fine leg.
The bemused batsman, Marcus Trescothick, hit a couple of the straighter balls for four. The six ball over lasted 14 balls.

After eventually completing the over Boswell went down to field at fine leg. The ball came his way. "I can dive for this." He did. And he missed it. Worse, he tore up a lump of the Lord's turf. "It landed on my head. So I was lying on the floor and I look up and there are 2,000 people behind me, and I see the ball trickling over the boundary. I have this bleeding lump of turf on my head." I thought: 'Fucking hell. This can't get any worse. Get me off this field.' He froze. Literally. "There was a water bottle five metres away from me. My mouth was so dry. But I couldn't move. I couldn't walk five metres to go and get it." The Somerset fans chanted "Bring on the Boswell! Bring on the Boswell!" That, he says, "haunted me for a couple of years".
and it also ended Boswell's first-class career at just 26 years of age.

Leicester also went on to lose that 2001 final.

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