A historical look at British Open heartbreak

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GULLANE, SCOTLAND (AP) - Not many people believed Adam Scott when he said he would take nothing but positives away from the British Open last year, despite blowing a four-shot lead with four holes remaining by closing with four straight bogeys at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and losing by one shot to Ernie Els.

It was crushing. Surely, it must have been devastating.

“I think if I sat there and watched someone else do what I did, it would have been devastating,” Scott said in June. “I didn’t feel that way. I felt like I played good enough to win and I almost had in my head. It wasn’t heartbreaking like I would imagine it looked, or if I’d watched someone else do it.”

Scott rebounded quickly by winning the Masters about nine months later. It didn’t make up for losing the British Open, but his assessment of his game was proven correct.

“If there is such a thing as golf gods, I think they heard the prayers of Adam Scott’s fans,” Paul Azinger said this week.

Not everyone is so fortunate.

There is plenty of heartache in the British Open, and not everyone recovers, even if they have major championships to soothe them.

Here are five examples of heart-breaking moments in golf’s oldest championship:

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5. OH, HALE

Hale Irwin was going along nicely in the third round in 1983 at Royal Birkdale as he tried to keep pace with four-time champion Tom Watson. On the 14th hole, Irwin had about a 12-foot birdie putt to reach 7 under, and he left the putt one turn short.

What happened next remains a mystery.

Irwin went to back-hand the putt when his putter bounced off the ground and over the ball _ a whiff. It counted as a stroke, and Irwin tapped in for a bogey. He fumbled the ball as he retrieved it from the cup, and then he made bogey on the next hole, clearly rattled. Irwin wound up with a 72, four shots behind Watson.

He made a beautiful charge Sunday with a 67, but there was this sinking feeling that giving away a stroke is never good in a major, particularly in the British Open when Watson is in the lead. Sure enough, Watson had two putts from 20 feet for the win.

“Now I’ve got to go see Watson two-putt this thing and make me cry,” Irwin said.

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