Unfortunately, sometimes in sports the fairy tales don't have happy endings. Yesterday, Tom Watson, the 59-year-old golfer who was sinking putts before you were soiling your Pampers, suffered a crushing defeat to fellow American, Stewart Cink, at the British Open. Watson had captured the hearts of fans around the world as he made a bid to become the oldest Major winner in golf history, only to miss a makable putt on the tourney's final hole.
Of course Watson isn't the first athlete to have a story that was too good to be true end a little too soon. Plenty have overcome the odds and/or tragedy only to have their hopes dashed at the very end. Keep reading for our list of The Most Heartbreaking Losses in Sports...
5. Ken Rosewall
SETTING: 1974 Wimbledon Final versus Jimmy Connors
RESULT: Connors swept Rosewall in straight sets
• Nearing the end of a storied career that included singles championships at the U.S., Australian, and French Opens, the 39-year-old Rosewall made a run at Wimbledon, the one major championship that had eluded him. Unfortunately he met brash young American Jimmy Connors in the final and suffered a humiliating 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 defeat, and would never win the singles chip at Wimbledon.
4. Phil Mickelson
SETTING: 2009 U.S. Open
RESULT: Fifth runner-up to Lucas Glover
• After his wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mickelson announced he would still play in the 2009 U.S. Open dedicating his play to her. Already a fan favorite, Mickelson made a valiant run at the title, beginning the final day tied for 2nd, only to fade late.
3. N.C. State Women's Basketball
SETTING: 2007 ACC Tournament
RESULT: The Wolfpack lost 60-54 to archrival UNC
• During the 2006-07 season, legendary N.C. State coach Kay Yow missed 16 games suffering from cancer. Yow returned late in the season to coach her team to an impressive run in the A.C.C. tournament, which included wins over Florida State and an undefeated, no. 1 Duke squad, before falling to UNC in the championship game. Sadly, Yow succumbed to cancer earlier this year.
2. Loyola Marymount Lions
SETTING: 1990 NCAA Tournament
RESULT: UNLV stopped the Lions' Final Four hopes with a 149-115 win
• After Marymount star Hank Gathers collapsed on court and died during a game in LMU's conference tournament, the Lions made a surprising run the NCAA tournament, reaching the Elite Eight with Gathers' best friend Bo Kimble shooting his free throws left handed to honor his fallen teammate. Loyola's Cinderalla run would end there, as they were dominated by UNLV, the eventual national champion.
1. Dan Jansen
SETTING: 1988 Winter Olympics, 500 and 1,000-meter speed skate race
RESULT: Fell down at the beginning of both races, ultimately leaving the Games empty-handed
• The morning of the 500-meter race, Jansen received a call informing him that his sister, who had inspired him to take up speedskating, had passed away from leukemia. Jansen pushed himself to compete anyway but was unable to keep his composure, falling early in the race. Days later he would fall again while leading the 1,000 meters. He would later return in the '94 Winter Olympics to win a gold medal in the 1,000 meter race.
Thanks to the SSSL for research assistance!