The final hole of the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot produced arguably two of the most horrifying Major melt-downs since Jean Van de Velde’s calamity at the 1999 Open at Carnoustie.
High profile stars Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie were the victims this time, with both carding double bogeys on the relatively benign par-4 to fall one shot behind eventual champion Geoff Ogilvy. Montgomerie had leaped into a share of the lead with the most unlikely 75-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and then calmly launched a drive straight down the 18th fairway.
However, as playing partner Vijay Singh took a ruling ahead of his second shot the Scot chose to wait, and when he was finally ready he quickly changed clubs before taking his shot. Only 171 yards from the pin, he elected to take a 7-iron, thinking the adrenaline of the moment would give him an extra boost. As it was, the almost ten-minute delay saw him become too relaxed and the shot came up short – at least a club short – to the right of the green in thick rough. He hacked out to the far side of the green and proceeded to three-putt for a double bogey.
It was his last top ten in a Major and haunts him to this day. “If there was one shot in my career I could take again – and have taken again a million times in my mind’s eye – it would be my 7-iron from the 18th fairway,” Montgomerie later wrote in his autobiography that his double bogey left him at 6-over- par and he trudged into the clubhouse thinking what might have been.
Mickelson, who was in the final pairing, stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead at 4-under but carved his drive way left behind a tree. Up ahead, Geoff Ogilvy signed off on his round with a par for a 5-over total, meaning Lefty needed par to win or make bogey for a play-off.
From 210 yards, after encouragement from the New York crowd, Mickelson risked it all and went for the green with an aggressive play to try and slice the ball around the tree. He swung hard and smashed it directly into the branches up head. The ball moved roughly 25 yards forward. His next shot carried over the trees but went left and plugged in the greenside bunker, with commentator Johnny Miller turning aghast at Mickelson’s shot choices. The fourth shot out of the sand ran through the green and into the thick rough. His chip back towards the hole never stood a chance and Ogilvy was crowned the winner. Miller called it “one of the worst collapses in US Open history by Phil Mickelson” while Mickelson, who popped in a 10-footer for double bogey, later reflected:“I just can’t believe that I did that. I am such an idiot.”