Wow…this is amazing. I think this has generated more discussion than my last three OPs put together. And just to clarify, fluke, fundamental, astonishing, brilliant, crazy, unlikely, I don’t care, it takes all kinds. Carry on!
Marley23 - Thanks for the article. Fascinating insights on what was happening that night. It’s great that Skiles acknowledged the record for what it was; a team effort that isn’t the be- and end-all of his career, but it’s still nice to have. Kobe Bryant could learn a few things from him.
etv78 - Man, I’d like to see that run. (Searches came up empty.) Be interesting to hear what he said about it afterward.
notfrommensa - Just out of curiosity, which ones were on par-72s and which were on par-70’s? That makes a pretty big difference.
zamboniracer - Well, I was trying to avoid negative records, but you do raise an interesting point. How good did the other aspects of Testaverde’s game have to be that all those interceptions didn’t destroy his career? It certainly says something about how hard it truly is to find a quality quarterback that a hot and cold QB can survive…so long as there’s enough of the former.
Paul Lawrie – Biggest deficit in the final round of a major overcome (10 strokes)
Credentials: [Insert credentials here, assuming this guy has in fact any.]
How he did it: The 1999 British Open was held at Carnoustie, one of the most brutal, painful, murderous, monstrous, lethal golf courses in the world. Going into the final round, leader Jean Van De Velde was sitting pretty at even par, while Lawrie was scraping by at +10. In other words, Lawrie’s task was tantamount to climbing Mount Everest in a wheelchair.
Van De Velde had a shaky start, bogeying two of the first three holes, and he had only one birdie the whole round. It was clear that he was playing conservatively, trying to “bend not break”, and make just enough decent shots to win. Lawrie, meanwhile, with nothing to lose, came out strong. He -2 in the first nine holes and capped off the back nine with a spectacular birdie to finish -4 for the day, +6 overall. Even so, Van De Velde was +3 going into the final hole, needing only a double bogey to win outright, which, even on Carnoustie, is a perfectly managable score.
Note that even in the unlikely event that Van De Velde got a triple bogey…or worse…Lawrie’s work wouldn’t be done, as he’d be in a playoff with Justin Leonard (who started the day 5 back), a distinguished veteran who turned in a very solid round that day.
Well, you know what happened. Banana, banana, sploosh, slash, blast, and a one-putt to make the playoff.
Okay, epic fail, biggest collapse etc. etc., but he’s still in it. Lawrie, Leonard, and Van De Velde are starting from zero now. If anything, it looks like Leonard’s going to steal this one.
And then Lawrie cranks up the afterburners another notch, finishing the 4-hole playoff in even par while his hapless rivals can do no better than +3. Lawrie makes history and becomes the first Scot since 1910 to win this event.
It was a fluke. It was a wild, crazy, loopy, freaky, stinky, unfathomable, unbelievable, jaw-dropping, eye-popping, heart-stopping fluke. Who can explain? It’s golf.
**Possible X-factor: **Snopes explained this in the “Sports Illustrated cover jinx” article. It’s all about expectations. No expectations, no pressure, freedom to shine.
**Breakable?: **Just conceivably possibly possible, but I guarantee that it will make sports headlines worldwide if it happens. Lawrie hit a super jackpot; the next Rocky who wants to do the same will have to be at least as fortunate.