Hancock, an unknown 21-year-old club pro from Wilmington, North Carolina, reached the final two holes with a seemingly insurmountable lead. As he approached the 17th tee, one of the spectators shouted, “Make way for the next U.S. Open champion!” Hancock promptly double-bogied the 17th and 18th, missing a playoff by a single stroke.

Sam Snead, 1939 U.S. Open at Spring Mill (Golf)

Snead, who has won more PGA events than anyone else in history, is undoubtedly the best player never to win a U.S. Open. He came close several times: He lost by one stroke in 1937; he lost in a playoff in 1947; and at the Spring Mill course at Philadelphia Country Club in 1939, before […]

Ray Ainsley, 1938 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills (Golf)

Ainsley, a club pro from Ojai, California, hit his approach on the par-4 16th into a stream fronting the green. Rather than take a penalty, he decided to play the ball from the water. As the ball drifted with the current, he slashed at it repeatedly, stubbornly refusing to take a drop. He finally carded […]

Arnold Palmer, 1961 Los Angeles Open at Rancho Park (Golf)

Palmer needed a par 5 on the 18th for a 69 in the second round. After a good drive, instead of laying up with an iron for the tight second shot, he went for a birdie and pushed a 3-wood out-of-bounds onto the adjacent driving range. He paused briefly to regroup and then hit another […]

Billy Joe Patton, 1954 Masters (Golf)

    The affable young amateur from South Carolina found himself in the lead on Sunday after a 32 on the front nine, which included a hole-in-one on the 6th. When he reached the par-5 No. 13, he was told that his closest competitor, Ben Hogan, had just made a double bogey on 11. All […]

Byron Nelson, 1946 U.S. Open at Canterbury (Golf)

After his caddie accidentally kicked his ball, costing him a penalty stroke, Nelson ended up tied with Lloyd Mangrum and Vic Ghezzi. He then lost to Mangrum in a 36-hole playoff.

Marty Fleckman, 1967 U.S. Open at Baltusrol (Golf)

Twenty-three-year-old Marty Fleckman shot 67-73-69 in a bid to become the first amateur to win the U.S. Open since Johnny Goodman (in 1933), but he ballooned to an 80 in the final round and finished 18th. Asked by reporters what happened, Fleckman replied, “I finally got back on my game.”

Arnold Palmer, 1966 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club (Golf)

With a seven-stroke lead over Billy Casper and only nine holes left to play, Palmer, in typical style, went for the U.S. Open record instead of playing it safe. But he scored five over par on holes 10 through 17 and barely managed to par the 18th hole to tie Casper, who shot 32 on […]

Tommy Nakajima, 1978 Masters (Golf)

The Japanese professional tried to cut the dogleg of the par-5 No. 13 at Augusta National, but his drive caught a tree and his ball ended up in Rae’s Creek. He took a penalty drop and played a 5-iron down the fairway, leaving himself 100 yards to the green. When his wedge found the creek […]

Billy Casper, 1968 Bob Hope Desert Classic (Golf)

Casper was two shots off the lead in the final round when he came to the par-3 4th hole. Just as he reached the top of his backswing, a spectator slipped on the rocky hill above him, causing a landslide that startled Casper into a cold shank. The resulting double-bogey 5 dashed his chance to […]