Which is the more pressure-packed situation: having to nail a triple axel to win an Olympic gold or staring down a three-footer to win the Masters? Sports is all about scores and statistics, yet its defining moments are associated with intense pressure, a wildly subjective quality. However, although pressure may not be quantifiable, a relative scale can be established. For instance, athletes in individual sports face greater pressure than those in team sports. (The Bills' Scott Norwood was in a bind when he came in to kick the deciding field goal with eight seconds left in Super Bowl XXV, but at least he could blame his teammates for putting him there.) Do-or-die scenarios are more dire than situations involving tie games. Also, the fewer shots at redemption you have, the greater the pressure; it's not so bad if you can say, "There's always next year." Finally, the longer you have to chew on your situation, the higher the tension.
That said, here are the five most pressure-filled sports moments in recent memory:
5. Michigan guard Rumeal Robinson's two game-ending free throws in the 1989 NCAA title game. With three seconds left and the Wolverines trailing Seton Hall by one point in overtime, he sank both—even after the Pirates called a timeout to ice him.
4. Roberto Baggio's penalty kick in the shootout of the 1994 World Cup final. Italy trailed Brazil 3-2 in the shootout. Baggio needed to score to avoid defeat. He didn't.
3. Tiger Woods's six-foot putt on the last hole of the 2000 PGA Championship. Needing to sink it to force a playoff with Bob May, Woods did and then won the playoff.
2. Bernhard Langer's six-foot putt on the last hole of the 1991 Ryder Cup. He missed, and the Europeans, who would have won had he made it, lost the Cup to the Americans.
1. Michelle Kwan's long program at the 2002 Winter Olympics. She had four years to prepare for the most stressful four minutes in sport, but came up short.