By Alex Myers
Golf Digest

Part of the Masters' appeal is the potential for a thrilling finish at Augusta National. But often it means someone is left crushed in defeat as a result. Sometimes it's a collapse, sometimes, as was the case with Louis Oosthuizen falling short to Bubba Watson, the title is simply taken away by an opponent playing better. Sometimes it's a combination of the two. No matter how it happens, it's always memorable. Here are the moments through the years that left fans feeling the most for those players coming up just a little short.

Most Heartbreaking Masters Moments Slideshow


2011: Rory McIlroy

Everything was all set up for a coronation on Sunday after McIlroy opened with rounds of 65, 69 and 70 to take a four-shot lead heading into the final round. Poised to become the second-youngest winner in the history of the event, the 21-year-old survived an early bogey and take the lead to the back nine. But disaster struck on 10. He hooked his tee shot left, made a triple bogey and came completely unraveled. There will be plenty more majors in his future, but he'll never forget letting this one get away. For more Masters coverage, go to


1946: Ben Hogan

After a close call in 1942 and three years of there being no tournament during World War II, the Hawk was poised for his first major championship in 1946. But faced with an 18-footer for birdie and the win on the 72nd hole, Hogan ran his attempt past the cup by the distance he's demonstrating in the photo to the left. He missed the come-backer and Herman Keiser took home his only green jacket. More from Golf Digest: The Holly Sonders Cover Shoot.


1956: Ken Venturi

Still an amateur, Venturi held a four-shot lead heading into the final round. The 25-year-old's nerves got to him the last day, though, as he shot an 80. Despite the rough round, he still only lost by one, when Jackie Burke Jr. birdied the penultimate hole. To add to his pain, Venturi would also lose by a single shot in 1960 when Arnold Palmer birdied the final two holes.


1961: Arnold Palmer

Palmer had a one-shot lead on the final hole, but his approach found the back bunker. Still just needing a bogey for the win, the King skulled a sand shot over the green. He then failed to get up and down to cap a stunning collapse and make Gary Player the first ever international winner of the event. More from Golf Digest: The Masters Style Preview.


1966: Gay Brewer

With a chance to win in regulation, Brewer three-putted 18 and lost in a playoff to Jack Nicklaus (pictured tossing his ball in celebration, left, while Brewer, right, watches). Unlike a lot of these other tales of woe, this one had a happy ending soon after as Brewer bounced back to win this tournament the next year. (Improve your game with instructional tips from Golf Digest.)


1968: Roberto De Vicenzo

It's one thing to lose. It's another to lose on a technicality. De Vicenzo was all prepared for a playoff with Bob Goalby when it was realized he had signed for an incorrect score following the final round. To make matters worse, the mistake originated from playing partner Tommy Aaron marking him for a "4" on the 17th hole when he had in fact made a birdie "3." The higher score counted and the Argentinian was left to mutter the famous phrase, "What a stupid I am."


1978: Hubert Green

Trailing by one while standing on the final tee, Hubert Green needed to come up with two clutch shots to tie Gary Player, who had already posted a 64. Green did just that with a great drive and an approach to three feet. But after backing away when hearing a radio broadcaster set the scene, Green pushed the putt right of the cup. Despite his crushing defeat, Green never held a grudge. In 2005, he told Golf Digest "Only an amateur would have been put off by the interruption -- or would try to make excuses about it."


1979: Ed Sneed

Sneed held an unlikely five-shot lead heading into Sunday and still led by three with three to play. But he bogeyed the final three holes to fall into a playoff, which he lost to Fuzzy Zoeller. Not only would he never win a Masters, but the four-time PGA Tour winner never seriously contended at a major again. (Keep current on the latest in golf equipment from Golf Digest.)


1986: Greg Norman

Lost in the magic of Jack Nicklaus' stirring victory in 1986 was the fact that Norman nearly had his own fantastic finish. The Shark birdied 14, 15, 16 and 17 to pull even with a finished Nicklaus, but he hit his approach on No. 18 long and right. When he failed to get up and down from behind the green (pictured, above), Nicklaus took home his historic sixth green jacket. Unfortunately for Norman, this wouldn't be the last time he got his heart broken at Augusta.


1987: Greg Norman

Norman again looked ready to claim his first green jacket until another player caught lightning in a bottle. This time, it wasn't a legend like Jack Nicklaus, but a journeyman, Larry Mize. After making a birdie on 18 to tie, the Augusta native holed an improbable pitch shot on No. 11, the second playoff hole. While Norman's anguish at Augusta has become etched in peoples' memory, so too has Mize's celebratory leap after pulling off one of the most shocking wins in major championship history. (How well do you know the tour's significant others? The PGA Tour's Better Halves.)


1989: Scott Hoch

Needing a two-putt for the win on the first playoff hole, Hoch couldn't get it done. When he missed his two-and-a-half footer for the win, Nick Faldo capitalized on his second life with a winning birdie on the next hole. The incident left Scott with a nickname he never could shed for the rest of his career. Hint: It rhymes with his last name.


1996: Greg Norman

It wasn't so much a moment, but a perfect storm of bad events. The wedge that spun back down the hill on No. 9. The lipped out eagle chip on No. 15. The 6-iron that found the middle of the pond at No. 16. They all added up to one of the most epic collapses in golf history. No one wanted a green jacket more than Greg Norman and no one let one get away in such painful-to-watch fashion.


2004: Ernie Els

The South African always seemed to have a golf game destined to win at Augusta National. To this point, however, destiny hasn't cooperated. Els' best chance came in 2004 when he took the lead heading to the back nine on his way to a dazzling 67. The only problem was that Phil Mickelson made an even bigger charge, closing with a 31 on the final nine, including an 18-footer for birdie on No. 18. The putt left Lefty jumping for joy for his major breakthrough and Els, who had been on the practice green preparing for a playoff, left to wallow in bitter disappointment.


2009: Kenny Perry

Twenty-three years after Jack Nicklaus became the oldest winner in Masters history at 46, Perry looked poised to shatter that record. Then 49, Perry nearly aced the 16th hole before settling for a tap-in birdie that gave him a two-shot lead with two holes to play. But the Kentucky native bogeyed the final two holes, then narrowly missed a birdie chip for the win on the first playoff hole. His magical ride finally ended with a double bogey on the second extra hole to give Angel Cabrera his first Masters title. For more Masters coverage, go to


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