Retief Goosen was one of the lucky ones. His three-putt from 12 feet on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open could have been a career-killer, but he bounced back to beat Mark Brooks in a playoff, and what could've gone down as a gaffe for the ages was reduced to a footnote. Not all the golfers who've yipped a big putt, like Ed Sneed (below), have been as fortunate.
He needed only a four at the 18th to edge Jack Nicklaus and win the 1970 British Open at St. Andrews. After his 35-foot birdie try came up short, Sanders had a left-to-right three-footer. He slapped it right and lost a playoff. Career-killer? Definitely. The miss became Sanders's defining moment.
Three up with three to play in the 1979 Masters, he missed a three-footer for par at 17, left a six-footer for the win hanging on the lip at 18 and then lost to Fuzzy Zoeller in a playoff. Career-killer? Yes. Sneed never again contended in a major and by '85 had retired as a full-time player.
After stepping away from a two-footer for the win on the first hole of a playoff against Nick Faldo at the 1989 Masters, Hoch forgot the read, pulled the putt and lost the playoff on the next hole. Career-killer? Nope. Although he's still without a victory in a major, Hoch has won five Tour events since 1994, including at Greensboro this April.
Standing on the 16th tee at Kemper Lakes in the final round of the 1989 PGA, he had a three-shot lead over Payne Stewart. Stewart, playing ahead of Reid, birdied the 18th hole as Reid drove into the water and made bogey. Reid then double-bogeyed the 17th and handed Stewart his first major. Career-killer? Absolutely. Reid hasn't finished among the Tour's top 70 money-winners in 10 years.
He had the ultimate pressure putt to end his match against Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup, the War by the Shore: a six-footer to decide the Cup. He missed. Career-killer? No. Like Goosen, he found almost immediate redemption, winning the German Masters the next week.
Davis Love III
He could've won the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills but finished bogey-bogey to lose by a stroke. The latter came when he left a slick, downhill 20-footer three feet short and dribbled his par putt over the left edge. Career-killer? Almost. It took him more than a year to win again, at the '97 PGA for his only victory in a major.