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Golf: Greatest golfers to have never won a major

24 April 2022 05:56:19 EST
Neither Lee Westwood nor Colin Montgomerie won a Major during their careers

Jack Nicklaus has claimed 18 of them and Tiger Woods has won 15 - Major championships are what all golfer's dream of.

A win at the Masters, the US PGA Championship, the US Open or Open Championship can fall into a player's lap and some like Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton and Trevor Immelman have won at extraordinary starting prices.

But then there are those who have been perennial challengers, even regarded as the best player on the planet, who have been unable to snear one of the game's biggest prizes.

Here is our list of the best golfers never to have won a Major.

Colin Montgomerie

Ater the golden era of Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros, Colin Montgomerie took up the mantle and dominated European golf in the 1990s, winning the European Order of Merit for seven successive seasons.

No English player has won more than his 31 European Tour titles but his Major experience is just a collection of hard-luck stories.

He was third at the 1992 US Open at Pebble Beach when Tom Kite triumphed, but more agonising near-misses were to follow as he finished second in five other Majors.

In 1994, he reached an 18-hole playoff at the US Open at Oakmont Country Club but could only hit a 78. Ernie Els and Loren Roberts were four shots better, with the South African triumphing on the second extra hole.

There was more playoff disappointment the following year at the US PGA Championship when he birdied the final three holes to earn extra-time against Steve Elkington only to fall to the Australian.

His other runner-up finishes were in the 1997 US Open, when he lost again to Els, this time by a single shot, at Congressional, in the 2005 Open at St Andrews when he was five shots behind Woods and then when Geoff Ogilvy won the US Open the following year.

After turning 50, Montgomerie trousered three senior Majors, winning the Senior PGA Championship twice and the US Senior Open as he looked to make up for lost time.

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Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood has won tournaments on five different continents but he has never managed to claim one of the big prizes, despite finishing second three times.

The Nottinghamshire man was the player who ended Montgomerie's European dominance and was officially the world's best player for 22 weeks from October 2010, but at the 2021 Open Championship, he broke the record of 88 Major tournament appearances without winning one, which was previously held by Jay Haas.

Westwood has won 25 European Tour titles and led the Masters going into the final round in 2010, but lost by a single shot to Phil Mickelson.

He was also the closest challenger to Louis Oosthuizen later that same year when the South African stormed to a seven-shot victory at the Open at St Andrews.

Other strong performances were a third at the 2011 US Open when Rory McIlroy won at Congressional and he was also third behind Oosthuizen and playoff winner Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters.

Among the other close shaves were leading into the final round at the Open but finishing third behind Phil Mickelson in 2013 and then being joint runner-up with Jordan Spieth when Danny Willett won the Masters three years later.

Westwood was fourth at The Open in 2019 at Royal Portrush and that meant he has finished in the top-five 12 times at a Major but not won one.

Luke Donald

Luke Donald won the PGA Tour money list and the Race to Dubai in 2011 and would spend a total of 56 weeks as the world's number one player, and that means he has to come into consideration for this list.

Donald has posted eight top-ten finishes in Majors, the first of which came in 2005 when he was third on his first visit to Augusta, when Woods beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff.

It was a similar story at the PGA Championship the following year when Woods was again the victor and Donald, alongside Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott, was six behind in third.

A lack of length off the tee has seen Donald slip down the rankings over recent years but, alongside Westwood, he holds the distinction of being the only world number one never to win a big one.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler is another player who has had a catalogue of near misses in the quest for the biggest prizes. His 12 top-10 Major finishes included a remarkable run in 2014 when he finished fifth at the Masters, second at both the US Open and Open Championship and third at the PGA Championship.

Fowler, whose last win on the PGA Tour came at the Waste Management Phoenix Open more than three years ago, was also second at Augusta in 2018 when he was a shot behind winner Patrick Reed.

He has won five times on the PGA Tour, which may not seem like many, but his Major record over the last ten years merits his inclusion in this list and, at 33, he may feel that his chance could come again.

Matt Kuchar

Matt Kuchar has triumphed four more times than Fowler, but he is 10 years older and may not be able to break his Major duck, particularly as he has now missed the cut in each of his last seven appearances in the big showdowns.

He was the leading money winner on the tour in 2010 and did win what is often referred to as the Fifth Major, when he won the Players Championship in 2012, and also claimed victory at the WGC Match Play a year later.

However, that has been as good as it has got for the 43-year-old, who has peaked at number five in the world rankings.

The nearest he came to breaking his duck was when he finished three shots behind Spieth at the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale, and he has finished in the top-10 at a Major 12 times, but it would be a shock if he ever left the 'best players never to have won a Major' club.

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