In the early hours of Monday morning, at the Augusta National golf course, Sergio Garcia emerged victorious at the 81st edition of the Masters Tournament. Garcia won on the first playoff hole against 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose after a round of golf bathed in sunshine and good sportsmanship; on this occasion golf was truly the winner.
Amongst other notable facts, such as Garcia’s caddie wearing the lucky number 89, Garcia shed the moniker, at the 74th time of asking, of the “Best golfer never to win a major”.
Who now takes on this unwanted title?
Looking at the statistics and rankings of those still playing a number of familiar names crop up.
Players never to have won a Major in the current top 25 according to the Official World Golf Rankings include Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey (who again finished strong at the Masters) and Matt Kuchar. However, these rankings perhaps only give a snapshot of those players currently in-form over the last 3 to 4 years.
Looking at Majors over the previous 10 years the most of amount of top 10 finishes goes to Lee Westwood (13) followed again by Matt Kuchar (8) and Ian Poulter (7) – interestingly all of Westwood’s top 10 Major finishes were actually in the top 5 including runner up spots at the 2016 Masters, 2010 Masters and 2010 Open Championship.
Looking further back over a 25 year period Westwood again leads the stats with 18 top 10 finishes heading Steve Stricker with 13. Westwood also leads the stats in terms of those with the most tournament wins on the PGA and European Tour Circuit with a combined 25 victories, leading Thomas Bjorns’ 15.
Perhaps then Westwood has the best claim to fill Garcia’s shoes in terms of the current crop of players, something he will no doubt seek to remedy over the coming months.
The above goes to show how difficult it can be to win a Major, especially during periods in which a particular dominates, such as the Woods era or that of Nicklaus and Watson. And whilst Westwood may have a claim to be the best current golfer never to win a major is he the best ever?
In my mind this title is still held by Colin Montgomerie.
Monty was a player who set new levels of consistency winning the European Tour Order of Merit for a record 7 years in a row between 1993 and 1999 amassing a total of 31 European Tour wins during an illustrious career in which he spent 400 weeks in the top 10 of the World Rankings. He is also finished runner up at 5 Major tournaments which included 2 play-off losses.
Whilst he has gone on to win 3 Senior Major Championships he has very strong case to be the greatest ever golfer never to win a Major. Would he change all these successes for a single green jacket or a Claret Jug? We will never know.
If you disagree feel free to let me know below.