Quick 9: Best current players not to have won a major
The question that will never go away – this year saw Sergio Garcia finally get over the major line after 73 attempts before Justin Thomas rounded off the year before we could even start to ask the question about him.
We detail the leading lights of those who are yet to land one of the big four.
1) Rickie Fowler
Is he the best around? That’s pretty impossible to say given the way things change and the hyperbole following a big week. The simple facts are he is now 28 which is fine until you look at how young his holiday pals Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas (both 24) are, he has eight top 10s in majors (four of them in 2014) and he is a win waiting to happen. A few observers think he has a bit of Sundayitis which is backed up by just four wins on the PGA Tour.
2) Hideki Matsuyama
You would be staggered if he was still on this list in two years’ time. The 25-year-old is very comfortable winning big (he already has two WGCs) and he has the necessary skills to turn it on in all four.
Around the start of the year he looked unbeatable and al lot of the hype going into Augusta was around him. He might well prosper for a more low-key run-up to the Masters before winning by five.
3) Jon Rahm
Given his world ranking (5th), age (22) and majors played as a pro (5) it seems odd to include him on such a list.
But, while his 2017 major efforts were mediocre at best given his quality, he’s already part of the top tier. While we all obsess about the number of wins (the Spaniard has prevailed once on both tours), it’s the ease and regularity which Rahm contends, on courses he has probably never played before, that is so impressive.
4) Paul Casey
Let’s start by re-trotting out one of the most astonishing stats on the PGA Tour – Paul Casey has won one tournament. For someone who has cleaned up on the European Tour (that said his last victory was in 2014) he can’t do it on his ‘home’ tour.
Week in, week out he will either go off in the last group and shoot 74 or breeze home in 67 from the middle of the pack.
He’s 40 now but is almost in the form of his life and, if he was to do it, you would think it would happen in Georgia.
5) Matt Kuchar
It might shock you to learn that Kuchar is younger than Casey. He’d be right to consider himself the unluckiest player of 2017 given what Spieth did to him at Birkdale.
Waiting forever on that 13th fairway Kuchar was tied with his compatriot, he then played the last six holes in one under and lost by three.
The man’s a money machine, earning close to $42m and counting, but his chance might gone in Southport.
6) Marc Leishman
Coming down the stretch at St Andrews it looked like the Aussie might be the one to upset the Spieth Slam storybook. Had he parred the last three he would have, as it transpired he lost a play-off to Zach Johnson.
Leishman has turned into a bit of an Open specialist, with three top 6s in the past four years, while he has also threatened at the Masters. He was paired with Adam Scott in 2013 when he broke through.
Now 34, a brilliant bet pretty much every week and still, strangely, underrated.
7) Branden Grace
How could you not include Mr 62 – no man has ever played a major in fewer shots.
But, major wise, he is best remembered for what happened at Chambers Bay in 2015. Standing on the 16th tee the South African was five under with a driveable par 4, a par 3 and a very reachable 5 to finish. He then blocked a 3-wood out of bounds while Spieth won on five under.
Overlooking that you would fancy Grace down the stretch. Another notable achievement was going 5/5 in the 2015 Presidents Cup.
8) Lee Westwood
Where to start? We are now 79 majors into Westwood’s career, we have had 18 top 10s including six top 3s but we’re still waiting for Westwood to not be the modern-day Colin Montgomerie.
You only have to go back to last year to his second place behind Danny Willett at Augusta, two months later he was in the penultimate pairing with Dustin Johnson as the American overcame that rules fiasco to win the US Open.
Westwood will top any list of this stat or that stat for major-less winners and nobody is even close to his combined 25 victories on both tours.
You wonder how often he thinks about the 18th green at Turnberry in 2009.
9) Steve Stricker
Let’s include the Presidents Cup captain for old time’s sake. No active player has earned more money on the PGA Tour, even Kuch, and not won a big one.
This year Stricker, the local boy, requested an invite to play in the US Open at Erin Hills but was denied. He then got in through a qualifying tournament in Memphis and finished 16th.
His big chance came at Sahalee in 1998 when Vijay Sigh pipped him, otherwise there were no other top 3s.
Stricker is now eligible for the Champions Tour.