OAKMONT, Pa. – The list is half-compliment. After all, one must be very talented to be included in such select company.
And half-slur. After all, you are telling a man that he has significantly under-thrown his potential.
We are talking about the ever-popular, ever-changing “Best Player to Never Win a Major” list, here on the doorstep of the next available winnable major.
The rankings, purely personal, entering Thursday’s first round at Oakmont, reflect upon four of the top-20-ranked players in the world and are rife with past frustrations.
- Dustin Johnson. He three-putted his way out of a chance to win last year’s U.S. Open. In 2010, he was the 54-hole Open leader only to shoot 82 on Sunday. That was the same year he grounded his club in a well-disguised hazard on the 72nd hole at Whistling Straits to take him out of the PGA Championship. Are we sensing a theme here? Vegas has Johnson, the world’s No. 6-ranked player, as a reasonable 12-to-1 shot to win this thing. But do you really think he’s the guy to make a tough putt on these greens when it matters most?
- Rickie Fowler. “The more you think about it or try to go win a major, that just makes it harder,” Fowler said earlier this week. He has been a runner-up at both the U.S and British Opens, and top five in the other two. “Now I’ve just got to be the one that has the lowest score,” he said. That last step is a doozy. Fowler, at 25-to-1 odds, might be a better bet if he hadn’t missed the cut in his last two tournaments and in three of his last five.
- Matt Kuchar. Waiting on this guy to break-through in a major has been excruciating. He makes money like he is the U.S. Mint – he is 13th on the career money-winning list with more than $36 million. He has won some really nice events, including the Players Championship and the Memorial. And had a really nice career. Turning 38 next week, he is running out of time to manufacture the exclamation point to his really nice resume.
- Sergio Garcia. There are some players, I believe, who are almost physically allergic to the biggest moment at the biggest events. I get this vibe from Garcia, having witnessed him at the Masters, where he has almost broken out in a rash whenever appearing on the leaderboard. Who would be surprised more if Garcia – the No. 13 golfer in the world, a 40-to-1 shot according to Vegas – were to win this week: Himself or the rest of us?