Being a great golfer is as much about your mental strength as it is about your physical ability. Truly great players aren't tested when everything is going perfectly, but when you’re not on your game, trailing by half a dozen shots and nothing is going your way, only then do real golfers show what they are made of, dig deep and try and pull it back. Golf is amongst the best sports for providing exhilarating comebacks, and here’s just a few of the best in recent history.
PETER LAWRIE, OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP 1999
This is probably better remembered for the spectacular collapse of Jean Van de Velde, whose inability to convert a three-shot lead going into the final hole has passed into golf folklore as perhaps the biggest choke in the sport’s history. With his name ready to be engraved on the trophy, he looked set to become the first Frenchman to win the Open Championship since 1907, but inexplicably managed to bungle every shot, finding the sand, the rough, the water and even the grandstands along the way. The real star of the show was Scotsman Lawrie, who kept his composure throughout the bizarre affair; eventually winning a three-way play off that also included Justin Leonard. After his victory, Lawrie said, “I think I'm going to cry. It can’t get any better”, proving that no matter how far off the lead you are, a level head can also see you persevere and snatch victory.
EUROPE, RYDER CUP 2012
One of the greatest comebacks in sporting history, the European team, captained by Jose Maria Olazabal, managed to comeback from trailing 10-6, eventually winning 14½ to 13½. Europe produced a late rally to shock the USA on American soil. There were few critics, commentators or even fans that hadn't written Europe off before Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose produced improbable victories, bridging the gap and ensuring that, mathematically at least, Europe still had a chance. Rory McIlroy was almost disqualified after arriving for his match with only minutes to spare, before Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer produced stunning displays to ensure the unlikeliest of victories in a dramatic final day. A brilliant demonstration of the power of great team spirit in the face of overwhelming odds.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE, US SENIOR OPEN 2014
Less of a traditional comeback, more of the triumph of perseverance throughout a long and varied career, which saw Monty finally win a USGA event after finishing second in the US Open on three separate occasions. Monty is perhaps the best example of never giving up, no matter how long it takes, and is a class act both on and off the course. He is the current president of The Golf Foundation, which receives a £5 donation from every ETIQUS timepiece sold. The British golf legend said, “It’s great to finally win a USGA event,” after coming from four strokes behind to seal victory, adding “I've lost in a play-off and been one shot behind a couple of times, I've had to wait to 50 to finally win one.”