As I watched the television coverage from the Masters I noticed that when analysts recalled the 2016 Masters, they did not speak of Danny Willett’s win, they focused on Jordan Spieth’s meltdown. Spieth had a five shot lead when he came to the back nine then disaster — bogeys on 10 and 11 followed by a quadruple-bogey (seven) on hole 12. Willett shot a bogey free 67 but that doesn’t matter because most golfers remember Spieth losing the Masters. Plus, it doesn’t help that Willett has played horribly since winning.
The ANA Inspiration is another example. Can you name the winner of the 2017 ANA? I bet if you are a golf fan you vividly remember that Lexi Thompson was assessed a four-stroke penalty due to a Rules infraction that occurred during Saturday’s third round which was “phoned-in” by a fan watching the broadcast. Thompson played through tear-filled eyes to give herself a chance in a playoff against So Yeon Ryu and Ryu won.
As with the Masters, much of the golf coverage leading up to the 2018 ANA championship focused on what happened to Lexi Thompson in 2017 thus taking away from the normal focus on the previous winner.
I cannot remember who won the 2012 Kraft Nabisco (now called the ANA Inspiration) but I remember the image of I.K. Kim missing a one-foot putt for the win. I had to look up the winner – I.K. Kim lost to Sun Young Yoo. Or should I say Sun Young Yoo won the 2012 Kraft Nabisco in a playoff.
I would guess most golf fans cannot tell you who won the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open but they will remember Anna Nordqvist was assessed a two-stroke penalty because a television viewer “phoned-in” that her club had grazed the sand in the bunker. This did impact the championship outcome with Brittany Lang coming out on top.
A true golf fan will know the name Jean Van de Velde. Van de Velde is famous for his meltdown at the 1999 British Open. Every year the video of Van de Velde’s meltdown is shown sometime during the week of the British Open. I had to look up the winner, it was Paul Laurie.
Even Jordan Spieth’s 2015 U.S. Open win at Chambers Bay will always have an asterisk noting Dustin Johnson’s 3-putt on the 18th hole causing him to lose the championship. Most golf fans were not shocked that Spieth won but how he won was shocking. Of course, redemption came when DJ won the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
The bottom line is “a win is a win” (as the saying goes) but it must be frustrating for a winner who’s victory will always be overshadowed by the story of the person that lost.
I was already thinking Van de Velde as I was reading this and then you mentioned him! I think it’s a couple of things: people associate with stories and the meltdowns are just more memorable than the one-time winners – and let’s face it, with four majors every year for the men, there are a lot of one-time winners: 139 one-time winners on the men’s side, only 81 with 2 or more. Guessing it’s similar with the women, but can’t immediately find the list.
Also, I’m sure the BBC bring up Willett more than CBS, but Spieth is just more interesting to more people. They even broadcast 18 shots of Tiger’s final round! So to an extent it’s catering to the specific audience.
Reminds me, too, of Jana Novotna’s breakdown at Wimbledon – as famous/memorable as any win there over the years!
Catherine, good points. At the Masters there is one winner and 85 losers every year. Maybe there a simply more “losing” opportunities for topicality.