U.S. Open 2020: Remembering Monty and Mickelson's misery at Winged Foot

By Sports Desk September 16, 2020

Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie would have a particularly thrilling and eerily similar tale to recount around a campfire of greats recalling their golfing horror stories.

The year was 2006, the scene was Winged Foot, the prize on offer was the U.S. Open on Father's Day. What unfolded was quite extraordinary. 

Fast forward 14 years and Winged Foot is, belatedly, preparing to once more host the major tournament, where the game's biggest names would do well to listen to Mickelson and Montgomerie's cautionary tale.

In total, there were 15 lead changes among five players on a dramatic final day. So, roast your marshmallows and listen carefully as we shine a torchlight on how Geoff Ogilvy became a major champion at the expense of more recognisable names…

Ogilvy's rollercoaster round

Starting the day just one stroke back of co-leaders Mickelson and the unheralded Kenneth Ferrie, Ogilvy found himself two clear through seven holes after making back-to-back gains at the fifth and sixth. But the Australian was not spared the drama and a run of four bogeys in the space of seven holes between the eighth and 15th saw him drop the lead. A solid finish, which yielded four straight pars, would prove to be crucial though…

Monty's mishap leaves door open for Phil

Considered one of the best players to never win a major tournament, Montgomerie passed up a golden opportunity at Winged Foot. The Scotsman had stayed in contention throughout a brutal final day and drained a mammoth 75-foot putt for birdie at his penultimate hole to take a share of the lead. A par would have been enough for the clubhouse lead, while a bogey would have at least meant a Monday play-off. Montgomerie drilled his tee shot at the last down the fairway and had a little over 170 yards to the pin. After a lengthy deliberation, he selected a seven iron but the approach missed the green short and the resulting chip out of the rough left a long downhill putt. He then agonisingly three-putted to see his hopes go up in smoke.

Mickelson makes an almighty mess of it

You could easily forgive Mickelson for thinking that when it comes to the U.S. Open there is a curse on his name. A six-time runner-up at the only major he has never won, including three prior to arguably his most heart-breaking experience at Winged Foot. Having won the previous two majors at the US PGA Championship and the Masters, few would have backed against him when a par at the last would have been enough to lift the trophy. Mickelson had been scratchy in getting to that point, with five bogeys negating three birdies. But still…surely, surely at least he would be back at Winged Foot on Monday. What followed was a comedy of errors. A drive off the tee was so errant it whistled through the trees towards a hospitality talent. His second struck a tree and advanced him just 25 yards, while his third plugged deeply into a green-side bunker. Out of the sand but with no spin, Mickelson's ball rolled off the other side of the green. A chip for bogey went six feet past the hole, leaving Ogilvy to celebrate.

The other hard luck stories…

Amid the drama, a couple of other near misses are often forgotten. Jim Furyk needed only a par at the last for what would have been enough for a play-off, only to miss a five-footer for par after recovering from the bunker. Padraig Harrington had crept into the mix having played 15 holes at two under without making a bogey. But the Irishman, now a three-time major winner, lost his cool at a crucial juncture, bogeying the final three to finish two back.

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    THE FIVE GOALS

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    IT COULD HAVE BEEN SEVEN

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    WHAT HE SAID

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    "I am very satisfied, that was incredible," he said. "I just wanted to shoot, I didn't really think what will happen afterwards.

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    "I don't know how fast it was, but it was fast. But when you're on the pitch, you're just focused on football. I looked at the scoreboard, it was the 60th minute and I only thought: 'Ooh.'

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    Lewandowski described it as "an amazing evening for me", alongside a picture of himself with the signed match ball.

    He insisted he was most glad to have helped the team and acknowledged messages of congratulations he had received from all over the world. 

    WHAT THEY SAID

    Speaking to reporters after the match, team-mate Jerome Boateng called Lewandowski one of the world's best strikers and was grateful he only had to compete with him in training.

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    Wolfsburg boss Dieter Hecking was less thrilled but fared no better in attempting to explain Lewandowski's showing. 

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    Wolfsburg midfielder Maximilian Arnold could only rue the defensive collapse from his side, adding: "We can't explain that, five goals in nine minutes. There is no reason to talk about it, it's just s***."

    Lewandowski's agent Cezary Kucharski was thrilled with the impact the feat had on his client's market value, but all but ruled out a move to one of the Manchester clubs amid a flurry of increased transfer talk after the match.

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    "Could that plan take him to Manchester? It's always raining over there. Munich is much more beautiful and a better place to live."

    Kucharski suggested a move to Spain would be more appealing, but as we know he ultimately remained at Bayern, signing a lucrative new contract in December 2017.

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    THE BEST OPTA STATS

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    Prior to the season shutting down in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Bucks were the team to beat in the NBA.

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