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March 07 , 2010

Fairway to Heaven

Victors and Victims of Golf's Choking Game


In golf, nowhere is the mental strain more apparent that at the closing stages of a major championship. The crowd, absorbed in every shot, conveys the tension to the players, who are also involved in another contest - the mind game. Before missing the most notorious putt in the history of the Open Championship, Doug Sanders was already thinking of which side of the gallery he would turn to first to acknowledge the applause. When he missed a three foot putt that would have won him the old silver claret jug, there was no applause. Instead people reacted as if they had just witnessed a terrible accident - which, in a sporting context they had. It was Jack Nicklaus, rather than Sanders, who went for the jugular and, in the process, took possession of the jug. The line between victor and victim can be measured not only in millions of dollars but also in fractions of inches. `One minute you're on cloud nine, ' Sam Snead remarked

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