Best Golfers to Never Win a Major

Introduction

Majors are the yardstick by which greatness is measured in golf. Unfortunately not every good player manages to snag one of the four most important tournaments of the year. Certainly, when you look at some of the players that have managed to win one major you would have to argue that these guys are probably better.

Active Players

Lee Westwood

The Nottinghamshire man turned pro in 1993 and has at times been a prolific winner during his career. With 25 wins on the European Tour, he lies eighth in the all-time list. A further 19 wins worldwide pad out an impressive CV.

He spent 22 weeks as world number one back in 2010 and has won the Order of Merit in Europe on three occasions.

Westwood has had a few near misses in the majors. The most famous probably being finishing runner-up to Mickelson in the  2010 Masters. Mickelson played a fantastic recovery shot from the pine the straw on the 13th hole.

He has managed to finish second or third in all four.

The Ryder Cup stalwart has appeared 10 times and managed to amass 23 points from 44 matches.

Matt Kuchar

If money won was the main consideration then Matt Kuchar would be top of the list. He currently lies ninth on the all-time PGA Tour money list with a mind-boggling $52 million and counting. Matt and Steve Stricker are the only two players in the top 20 on that list who haven’t managed to pick up one of the majors.

Given the huge increases in prize money down the years, it’s hardly surprising that the all-time list has a definite recency bias. E.g. The US Open has seen its first prize grow from $55,000 to $900,000 between 1981 and 2001. It then increased to $2,250,000! for 2021.

That increase is more than 10 times the rate of inflation!

Matt has managed 17 professional wins worldwide with nine of those on the PGA Tour. He does have a tendency to rack up top-10 finishes though.

His major performances haven’t been that great. He came closest at the 2017 open championship when he was basically robbed by Jordan Spieth holing putts from all over the place.

Matt did win the US amateur back in 1997 so I suppose if we’re comparing his record to Bobby Jones then he has won a major. However, the common consensus these days is to only look at the professional major championships.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler at Nordea Masters press conference
PG Jansson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A darling of the fans, Ricky comes 24th on the all-time money list as of May 2021. The youngest player on my list. Probably one of the more contentious ones given that Ricky has been voted the most overrated player by his peers a few years ago.

Fowler had a good amateur career including two Walker cup appearances and was the leading player on the 2008 Eisenhower Trophy team.

His best year in the majors so far is 2014. He finished tied second, tied second, tied third in the US Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship respectively. This was following a tied fifth finish at the Masters in April. He was the first player to manage a top-five finish in all four majors in a season without winning at least one.

Even his fans would have to admit that his career total of just nine wins so far is probably on the low side for someone of his talent.

Has recently gone through a form slump that has led him to drop outside the world’s top 100 having been as high as number four back in 2016. Hopefully, his recent performance at the 2021 PGA Championship heralds a return to his previous standard of play.

Luke Donald

Has been world number one for a total of 56 weeks since turning pro back in 2001. A total of 17 professional wins including five on the PGA tour and seven on the European Tour. Luke was the first player to win both the PGA and European Tour money lists in the same season back in 2011. Although had Tiger bothered to join the European Tour he would have managed this feat on a few occasions. This is because Majors and World Golf Championships count for both tours.

Now down at 491 in the Official World Golf Ranking (May 2021) it seems fairly unlikely that Luke is going to break his major duck. He’s only managed to make four cuts from the 17 events played so far on the 2021 PGA tour with his highest finish being 13th place in the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Luke hasn’t played in a major since the 2019 U.S. Open and his last top 10 was back in the 2013 U.S. Open.

Paul Casey

The Englishman born in Cheltenham turned pro back in 2000 following a stint at Arizona State University. The winner of 21 events worldwide with three of those on the PGA tour and 15 on the European tour.

Paul had a solid amateur career winning the English amateur twice. He also broke the Pac-12 championship scoring record previously held by Tiger Woods.

He was a member of the winning 1999 Walker cup team with a 4-0 record.

Has been as high as number three in the world but at times suffered from injuries that have undoubtedly held him back.

Seeing a little bit of a renaissance during his early 40s with four wins in the past three years.

The Masters would seem to be the major most likely for Casey with five of his 11 top tens being at Augusta National.

Steve Stricker

Another player who didn’t manage to win a major on the main tour but has picked up a couple of senior managers since turning 50 is Steve Stricker.

The only other player apart from Matt Kuchar in the all-time money list top 20 who hasn’t won a major.

Since turning pro in 1990 Stricker has managed 29 professional wins with 12 of those on the PGA tour.

Ranked as high as number two in the world Stricker’s performances in the majors haven’t exactly set the world on fire. For a player of his ability you would have to think a major would have been a distinct possibility.

Retired (or only playing on Senior Tours)

Colin Montgomerie

Golf Lesson with Colin Montgomerie

Arguably the best player to have never won a major, the Scot has amassed 54 professional wins including 31 on the European tour.

He won the European Tour order of merit on eight occasions including seven in a row a feat unlikely to be repeated one would think.

Colin was one of the first British players to try the American collegiate system. He initially considered a career in sports management before turning professional. Indeed he tells the story of playing nine holes with two executives from IMG who basically said they should be working for him.

A five-time runner-up in majors, two of them in play-offs. He has managed to win three senior majors but has also recorded three seconds and two third places since turning 50.

Won 23.5 points in eight Ryder Cups as a player and was also a winning captain at Celtic Manor in 2010.

Harry Cooper

“Lighthorse Harry” Cooper Was born in England but his family moved to Texas when he was still a child.

Both his parents were golf professionals So that probably gave him a bit of a head start compared with other kids.

He managed 36 wins as a professional with 30 of those on the PGA tour. He has the most PGA Tour wins of anyone without a major.

He had 19 top tens in majors including losing a play-off for the US Open to Tommy Armour and two 2nd place finishes at the Masters.

You could certainly make a good case for Harry to be considered the best player to never win a major. Based on both these PGA Tour wins and the number of times he managed to get into the top ten in majors.

Miguel Angel Jiminez

Miguel has managed 38 professional wins worldwide with 21 on the European tour. Another whose major performances probably don’t match up to the rest of his career but he does have nine top 10s between 1999 and 2014.

Since turning 50 he has managed to notch up a couple of senior majors but I would argue that he is a player whose career was worthy of a major.

Mark McNulty

A name that you’re unlikely to see on many lists of this nature. Growing up I always thought McNulty was a great player.

59 professional wins including 16 on the European tour show just how good a player McNulty was. While his major record is hardly stellar his overall career is arguably much better than many players who managed to win a solitary major.

He never won on the PGA Tour but has won eight times on the Champions Tour since turning 50 including one of the senior majors.

Best Golfers to Never Win a Major

For me, Colin Montgomerie would probably be my pick for the best golfer to never win a major. His sheer consistency during the majority of his career is something that most of his peers completely failed to live with.

I can only assume it must be galling to the likes of Monty when you look at some of the players who have managed to pick up a major trophy over the years.

Do you agree?

Sources:

PGA Tour

European Tour

Wikipedia

Similar Posts

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published.