The 2003 Open offered lots of potential Open chokes, not least one by the eventual winner, 750-1 longshot Ben Curtis
Worst Open Golf chokes #3: Thomas Bjorn, Royal St George’s, 2003
When seeking putative Open chokes in the making at Royal St George’s in 2003 it would have been hard to know just where to look. It seemed to be that everyone who was getting close to winning had second thoughts about it.
Prime contender for one of the worst Open chokes would have been Ben Curtis. The 750-1 longshot had shot six-under in the first 11 holes on the final day but then dropped four strokes in the next six holes.
But by sinking a 12ft putt for par on the final hole he had at least made himself the clubhouse leader.
That hoover-up of Major titles, Tiger Woods was hunting down another one before he dropped shots at the 15th and 17th to finish two shots off the title.
Vijay Singh came up one shot short having also dropped shots down the stretch.
But the man who suffered one of the biggest Open chokes was Thomas Bjorn. Bjorn had a three-shot lead with four holes to play.
On 15 his tee shot rolled into a pot bunker, from which he was forced to chip out sideways. A bogey was the eventual result.
He again found a bunker from the tee on the par-3 16th when the ball rolled off the green into one.
He escaped from the sand, and the ball landed on the green – and rolled back into the bunker. He tried again, and the result was identical.
Minutes later he was walking off with a 5 on his scorecard. He was now only joint leader for The Open with clubhouse leader Curtis.
On 17, he drove into the rough, and his approach fell short of the green. His chip went beyond the flag leaving him a 6ft putt for par. He missed it.
“When he got that bogey, I knew we had won,” said Curtis’ caddie, Andrew Sutton.
Bjorn now had to birdie the final hole to force a play-off. Only one man had birdied that final hole all day.
When Bjorn made par on 18, it meant he had lost out on being Open Champion by one stroke.
That 17th hole had been the undoing of Bjorn in more ways than one. Earlier in the tournament in his frustration at his failure to escape the bunker he slammed his wedge down in disgust thus incurring two penalty strokes for grounding his club.
Two year years later, Bjorn stood on the 17th tee at K Club jointly leading the European Open. He took 11 on the hole and finished in 33rd position.