10 Players Golf Fans Desperately Want to Win a Major

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2013

10 Players Golf Fans Desperately Want to Win a Major

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    Now that fan favorite Adam Scott has finally removed the major monkey from his back, it's fitting to turn an eye toward those players golf lovers continue to pull for on the game's greatest stages.

    The most recent major breakthrough before Mr. Scott's at the Masters was undoubtedly Phil Mickelson's win at the same tournament in 2004. Lefty's fans shared in his agony at the majors for years before he rolled in his birdie putt on the 18th hole at Augusta some nine years ago, elevating some ten inches off the green in a jumping jack of jubilation.

    Likewise, Rory McIlroy's 2011 U.S. Open triumph at Congressional. Although less desperately longed-for than Mickelson's win (McIlroy, the golfing prodigy, was only 22 at the time), the young man from Northern Ireland's victory was an expected coronation of sorts. The win came, perhaps, sooner than expected, unlike Mickelson's, which was long overdue.

    The majority of the golfers on this list haven't yet added "major champion" to their resumes, one (I'm sure you can guess his name) has the broadest appeal in all of professional golf—and from a variety of standpoints, must return to his major-winning ways.

    Read on to reveal the rest of the 10.

Lee Westwood

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    Best Finish in a Major: Second (2010 U.S. Open, 2010 Open Championship).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: Westwood showed great promise early in his career. Indeed, he finished inside the top 30 in all four majors in 1997, the first year he competed in all of the tournaments.

    Now 40 years old, Westwood is still without a major victory. The golfer sits in the 12th position in the Official World Golf Ranking and has won nearly 40 times on tour, but still hasn't broken through at the majors.

    Fans are desperate because Westwood has so routinely come close in the majors; he finished inside the top 10 three times in the last two years. The window of opportunity is closing for Westy, as well, and fans know that if he's going to win a major, he only has a couple more years to do it.

Sergio Garcia

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    Best Finish in a Major: Second (1999 U.S. Open, 2007 Open Championship).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: It's been difficult to believe for some time now that the teenager who nearly won the 1999 PGA Championship hasn't won a major. Even more than with Westwood, fans have been heartbroken by the Spaniard's near-misses in majors, most notably the 2007 Open Championship and the 2008 PGA Championship.

    Although he's only 33, and will likely be competing for major titles for at least the next 10 years, there seems to be a feeling among fans (and perhaps echoed by Garcia himself) that Sergio isn't going to win a major and is destined to become his generation's Colin Montgomerie.

Rickie Fowler

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    Best Finish in a Major: Tied for fifth (2011 Open Championship).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: OK. Fowler isn't "overdue" for a major victory by any means. He won his first tournament as a professional just last year and certainly seems to be on pace for a major win eventually.

    However, for Fowler's legions of fans, a major victory can't come soon enough.

Tiger Woods

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    Best Finish in a Major: First (14 times).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: Here's something you might not know: Tiger hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. Oh, that's right. You've probably heard that no fewer than three million times over the course of the past few years.

    Woods himself seems desperate to win a major, as last year's club-kicking tantrum at the Masters seemed to indicate. Further implosions on the weekend in the majors last year, and a bizarre bit of misfortune at Augusta this year, have fans more desperate than ever for a Woodsian major triumph.

    Those with a financial stake in the game of golf—from the PGA Tour itself, to equipment manufacturers, to television stations—are eager for a Woods major win, as well.

Luke Donald

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    Best Finish in a Major: Tied for fifth (2005 U.S. Open, 2006 PGA Championship).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: Luke Donald is fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking. However, he spent a good deal of time at the top of that list without managing to win a major.

    Donald seems to be a player uncomfortable on the major stage. He seems to prefer to sneak in the back door for a top-10 finish on Sunday to front-running. And at age 35, the clock is certainly ticking for the Englishman.

    He's another player who turned in commendable performances at the majors early in his career, yet he seems unable to capitalize on that early promise.

    Donald's fans desperately hope that the golfer will be able to continue playing at a high level and that he'll put himself in a position to win a major on Sunday, rather than just sneak inside the top 10 with a final round in the 60s.

Ian Poulter

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    Best Finish in a Major: Second (2008 U.S. Open).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: For one, Poulter is 37 years old. He's gotten better with age, finishing inside the top 10 of three of out of the four major championships last year. The time for an Ian Poulter major seems to be drawing near.

    However, the win isn't coming fast enough for his fans, who surely hope to see their hero remembered for more than his wardrobe choices.

Dustin Johnson

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    Best Finish in a Major: Tied for second (2011 Open Championship).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: In a word: Redemption. Johnson grounded his club in a "bunker" (that is, a barely discernible waste area) in the final round of the 2010 PGA Championship, costing him a chance at victory.

    If there's any justice in the golfing universe (and there may not be), Johnson will win a major shortly. A second-round 76 at the Masters this year thwarted the South Carolinian's pursuit of victory this year, and he still seeks retribution for a ridiculous rules situation.

Jason Dufner

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    Best Finish in a Major: Second (2011 PGA Championship).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: Like Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner is seeking redemption at the majors. Unlike Johnson, however, Dufner wasn't undone by a technicality, but rather by his own poor play down the stretch.

    Leading the 2011 PGA Championship by five strokes with five holes to play, Dufner stumbled to the finish line, eventually losing the tournament to Keegan Bradley in a playoff. Fans are eager to see the Duf have another shot at a major on Sunday.

Phil Mickelson

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    Best Finish in a Major: First (Four times).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: 42-year-old Phil Mickelson hasn't won a major since 2010. Lefty, like many players on this list, surely must feel his window of opportunity beginning to close.

    With a weak showing at Augusta this year as a potential harbinger of things to come, Phil's fans must sense that their man won't have an an abundance of additional opportunities to win majors.

    Another major victory would tie Lefty with Seve Ballesteros for 14th on the all-time list of major champions, an outcome his legions of supporters are eager for.

Justin Rose

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    Best Finish in a Major: Tie for third (2012 PGA Championship).

    Why Fans Are Desperate: Another player in the "I can't believe he hasn't won a major" club, Justin Rose was a pre-tournament favorite heading into the Masters this year. Unfortunately, the Englishman sputtered in the final rounds of the tournament, eventually finishing in a tie for 25th.

    It's hard to fathom that Rose, who finished tied for fourth as an amateur at the Open Championship in 1998, hasn't won a major. Since that point, Rose has six top-tens in major championships, but the golfer hasn't been a consistent threat.

    Rosey needs to figure out how to get it done. When he turned pro, he seemed destined to be a multiple major winner. Now, it looks like the 32-year-old Rose could finish his career without a major win.