aNewDomain — We’ve reached the end of the road for golf’s majors in 2015. What was expected to be a furthering of Rory McIlroy’s legacy instead turned out to be the Summer of Spieth.
Jordan Spieth, of course, won the Masters and U.S. Open before coming up short when Zach Johnson took the Open Championship at St. Andrews.
With McIlroy coming back for this week’s PGA Championship 2015 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin and a host of other major winners in the field, it would be the safe choice to go with a former champ. Spieth is always a threat, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson have a chance and Phil Mickelson is available for anyone who craves nostalgia.
But there are plenty of players who have yet to claim a major title despite the talent to do so. So here’s my ranking of the non-major winners, along with some discussion around exactly why these players are on the brink of a breakthrough.
Australia’s best pro golfer has come close on numerous occasions, finishing in the top 10 nine times since 2010. Had he not been hit by a recurring bout of vertigo during the last two rounds of this year’s U.S. Open, he might not even be on this list. Day has four career PGA Tour wins, including the Accenture Match Play Championship last year. He’s ready to hoist the trophy on a Sunday afternoon at a major.
The player who could have just as easily become a pro motocross rider finished in the top five in every major last season. Things haven’t gone quite as well this year; Fowler’s tie for 12th at the Masters was his best showing. A victory at the Scottish Open last month showed his game is still in good form, so he’ll be in the running again this week.
Reed has only seven majors starts to his resume, his best finish a 14th-place showing at this year’s U.S. Open. He has a ton of confidence – some would say too much – and that could come in handy this week.
Trying to win his first major at Whistling Straits is almost cruel. We all remember that he could have won the PGA Championship there in 2010. He touched his club to the ground in a bunker that he didn’t know was a hazard on the 72nd hole, eventually causing a two-stroke penalty that knocked him from contention. That bunker has since been removed. Could it be a sign?
At age 23, Matsuyama already has seven pro wins, including last year’s Memorial Tournament after a playoff with Kevin Na. He also finished fifth at this year’s Masters and has moved all the way up to 15th in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s the best bet to become the first Japanese player to win a major title.
The Swede, pictured at left, has 17 pro wins and not a single major. Hard to believe. Stenson has made the cut in 29 of 38 major starts and wound up third in the past two PGA Championships. At age 39, his window is closing, so he needs to start winning soon.
Kuchar doesn’t have a stellar record in the majors, finishing in the top 10 just six times in 39 career starts. His best showing was a tie for third at the Masters in 2012, the one major where he has seen a little success. Kuchar’s high-water mark at the PGA Championship was a tie for 10th in 2010.
Almost forgotten in the drama during this year’s U.S. Open is the fact that Grace tied for fourth. Grace has nine pro victories and has climbed from 82nd to 28th this year in the Official World Golf Ranking. Yes, he’s trending upward.
The cynics among us say the Spaniard stands no chance of winning a major. Too flaky, too emotional, always looking to blame someone for his shortcomings. The optimists say he still has a shot: 50 cuts made in 68 majors, including four top 10 finishes in the PGA Championship. Let’s see how it plays out this week.
Call this a knee-jerk reaction since Lowry is coming off a win at the Memorial this past weekend. But did you see that winning shot on the final hole Sunday? It was the stuff of legend and proof that McIlroy’s lifelong buddy has talent of his own.
With McIlroy announcing Monday that he’s playing this week after being shelved with a torn ankle tendon, first-time wannabees have a tougher task in front of them. It’s going to be a fascinating week in Wisconsin and hopefully a fitting end to the majors season. And it all begins Thursday …
Sergia Garcia, photo courtesy: Usien. All rights reserved; Jason Day, uploaded from Flickr, All Rights Reserved; Henrik Stenson, photo courtesy: Frankie Fouganthin. All rights reserved.