The world of golf has witnessed some incredible comebacks and successes over the years. In our tribute to Leicester City, find out who makes in into our 'Most Unlikely XI'
As tributes started to pour in following Leicester City’s unfathomable confirmation as Premier League champions, we started to think about golfing equivalents.
Many people have argued that Leicester’s triumph is the greatest occurrence in the history of sport, and it’s hard to disagree with that argument. However, golf has seen its fair share of surprises over the years.
So, we though we’d create a team of 11 players from the world of professional golf who’d make it into the ‘Most Unlikely XI’. If the Leicester City team were made up of golfers, both past and present, who'd make it into the side?
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel Most Unlikely XI: Ben Curtis
Ben Curtis was an absolute nobody when he qualified for the 2003 Open Championship at Royal St George’s. He ranked 396th in the world, he’d never played in a Major Championship and he’d never recorded a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour. He fired a 69 on Sunday to finish one clear of a stellar cast including Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Thomas Bjorn.
Leicester City XI: Danny Simpson Most Unlikely XI: Steve Jones
Steve Jones had been a good PGA Tour player in the late ‘80s, registering four titles. However, he suffered ligament and joint damage in a dirtbike accident in 1991. He only played a handful of events over the new few years, and hadn’t played in the US Open for five years when he attempted to earn a place through Sectional Qualifying in 1996. He came through successfully and went on to edge out Tom Lehman and Davis Love III to land his first and only Major title.
Leicester City XI: Robert Huth Most Unlikely XI: Jack Fleck
Ben Hogan was in the clubhouse with a two-shot lead at the 1955 US Open, but Jack Fleck was still on the course. Nobody, however, gave the club pro from Iowa much of a chance. Indeed, NBC finished their television coverage before he’d finished his round, ending on a shot of Gene Sarazen congratulating Hogan. But on the course, Fleck birdied the 15th and 18th to tie Hogan, before defeating him in an 18-hole play-off the following day. Fleck’s own son said: “I rooted for you, dad, but I was sorry Hogan lost.”
Leicester City XI: Wes Morgan Most Unlikely XI: Lloyd Mangrum
Lloyd Magnum was a soldier during World War II, and participated in the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, where he was shot in both the knee and shoulder. He survived, and was awarded two Purple Hearts – handed to servicemen who were wounded (or killed) during the course of duty. The year after the end of the war, he defeated Vic Ghezzi and Byron Nelson in a 36-hole play-off to land the 1946 US Open – his sole Major.
Leicester City XI: Christian Fuchs Most Unlikely XI: John Daly
John Daly was the 9th alternate just a few days before the 1991 USPGA Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana. He decided to make the trip from Memphis, anyway, and when he arrived at his hotel room late on Wednesday, there was a message informing him he had a tee time at 1.58 the following afternoon. He absolutely dominated the course with an unprecedented display of power hitting, coupled with a fine touch on and around the greens. He finished three shots clear of Bruce Leitzke, who famously remarked: “There was a guy out there holding a sign showing ‘John 3:16’. One of the journalists wrote he didn’t know if he was making a religious statement or giving Daly’s driving average.”
Related: John Daly plays guitar for GM
Leicester City XI: Marc Albrighton Most Unlikely XI: Todd Hamilton
Todd Hamilton turned professional in 1987 but didn’t earn his PGA Tour playing privileges until 2003, having spent most of his career playing on the Japan Golf Tour. He claimed the 2004 Honda Classic, but, even still, no one saw him as a genuine contender for the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon. How wrong they were. Using a hybrid to expert effect, he compiled a fine four-round total and defeated Ernie Els in a play-off to become one of the most unexpected winners in Open Championship history.
Leicester City XI: N’golo Kante Most Unlikely XI: Babe Zaharius
Babe Zaharius was an absolutely dominant force in the 1940s and 1950s. Indeed, by the end of 1952, she’d won nine Majors. However, she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1953 and had surgery to remove it. In spite of all that, the returned to the LPGA Tour the following year and won five tournaments, including a 12-stroke victory in the 1954 US Women’s Open.
Leicester City XI: Danny Drinkwater Most Unlikely XI: Herman Keiser
Herman Keiser served for 31 months aboard the USS Cincinnati during the Second World War, but survived and found himself playing in the 1946 Masters, which was supposed to be a duel between Ben Hogan, San Snead and Byron Nelson. Kaiser, a relatively unknown club pro fro Missouri, found himself with a five-shot lead after three rounds, and secured the Green Jacket when Hogan three-putted the 72nd green. Kaiser quit competitive golf in the mid-1950s and purchased a driving range in Ohio.
Leicester City XI: Riyad Mahrez Most Unlikely XI: Ben Hogan (c)
Ben Hogan’s story is one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sport. After the conclusion of the Phoenix Open, him and his wife, Valerie, were driving home to Texas. They never made it. A Greyhound bus driver tried to overtake a lorry on the corner and smashed straight into Hogan, who had thrown himself over Valerie. He was presumed dead and although he survived, he broke his collarbone, pelvis, ankle and ribs. He later suffered a blood clot that required emergency surgery and consigned him to a lifetime of poor blood circulation. He would have severe difficulty walking, let alone playing, 18 holes from then on. Just 16 months later, he won the US Open at Merion – a tournament he admitted he didn’t think he’d be able to finish.
Leicester City XI: Shinji Okazaki Most Unlikely XI: JB Holmes
JB Holmes underwent brain surgery in 2011 to address balance issues. However, a month later, doctors discovered he was allergic to the adhesive used on the titanium plate at the base of his skull. He was airlifted to hospital for further surgery. He returned to the PGA Tour in 2012, but was forced to sit out most of 2013 after undergoing both ankle and elbow surgery. He returned to the PGA Tour in 2014 and won the Farmers Insurance Open and Shell Houston Open the following year.
Leicester City XI: Jamie Vardy Most Unlikely XI: Shaun Micheel
Shaun Micheel entered the 2003 USPGA Championship as the 169th-ranked golfer in the world. Four days later, he hit one of the best shots in golf’s history – a 7-iron to two inches on the 72nd hole – to become a Major Champion. As it stands, that’s his only victory on the PGA Tour, despite having played in almost 400 tournaments. He hasn’t recorded a top-ten finish since 2010.