Title of best golfer to never have won major now goes to …
The 2017 Masters is officially in the books. And to be honest, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
For years, Sergio Garcia has had to deal with the best negative moniker out there: “Best player never to have won a major.”
If you think about it, it’s kind of a compliment. Out of all the people in the entire world who have never won a major — which is like 99.9999 percent of the world’s population — you’re the best!
I, along with everyone else I know, would be very happy to take on that title.
The downside for someone in Garcia’s situation however — a PGA Tour professional — is the increased pressure TO WIN at every major he plays. From the “Scissor kick” in 1999’s PGA to the missed putt on the last hole at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, Garcia has been competing in majors at a very high level for almost 20 years. I personally couldn’t be happier for him that he got the victory.
Now that Garcia has his major, who moves up to take his place as the world’s best golfer to have never won a major?
I actually think the “never to have won” pressure falls more on Rory McIlroy (The Masters) and Phil Mickelson (The U.S. Open) as they each continue their quest to complete the career Grand Slam. But the question will certainly be asked, so I’ll give my two cents.
Out of active players, I think the only clear resume of players still active belongs to Lee Westwood, who has been competing in majors since 1995!
Westwood has risen to the top of the world rankings at two distinct times in his career. And he has an impressive nine top-three and 18 top-10 finishes in majors. Only Steve Stricker comes to mind as far as accomplishments and longevity, but his active number of starts on tour is minimal as he’s now a Champions Tour member.
Of course we have a number of young guns still looking for their first majors. And while the talent on the bench runs deep, I have a problem anointing someone with the “best to have never won” title based on talent alone. If I had to pick a few other players to challenge Westwood for the title, I’d have to go with two young guys I think will get their first major within the next year or two:
Rickie Fowler: He has multiple years on Tour. A handful of wins including a Players. And he’s seen Sunday action in all four majors. I think his time will come. But I don’t think he’s “overdue” like Sergio was.
Thomas Pieters: The long-hitting Dutchman is a stud. He showed his grit in last year’s Ryder Cup. And he was in contention at this years’ Master’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won one this year.
And two veterans I think will still compete and hopefully claim a major are:
Luke Donald & Matt Kuchar: The career accomplishments are there. Tour wins? Check. Longevity? Check. World No. 1? Donald got there not all that long ago.
But even at their best, I don’t view them as dominant forces destined to claim a major. It may still happen for them, but I don’t think they’re quite worthy of the title.
So congratulations to Sergio Garcia for his break-through win. The emotion he showed when that last putt dropped is why I love this game as much as I do.
Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at Jonah@thekarzmerinsurance.com.