Ranking the 10 Most Disappointing Players in Golf's 2013 Majors
Some golfers can struggle in major championships but fly under the radar of low or no expectations. You won’t find any of them on this list of the most disappointing players from the 2013 major championships.
By definition, to disappoint a golfer must have had some degree of expectations placed on him, and that is certainly true of these 10 professionals. The lineup includes some of the biggest names in golf and others aspiring to get there, and while each struggled in different ways, they realized similar results.
Some failed to contend in a single major; others simply didn't do it enough to meet the standard that had been applied to them when 2013 started.
It’s not a list any expected to make or would be terribly happy to be a part of it. But in golf, results do the talking, and these golfers didn’t deliver the ones predicted for them.
10. Louis Oosthuizen
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Louis Oosthuizen leads off this list not so much because of the way he played in the major championships but because he couldn't stay on the course when he started them.
The 2010 British Open winner's major championship season got off to an ominous start at Augusta National back in April when he missed the cut after playing the first two rounds in 74-76. That was bad, but things were only going to get worse.
After opening with a first-round 75 in the U.S. Open, Oosthuizen was forced to withdraw with a hip injury.
The South African, however, played twice in between that disappointment and the Open Championship, but perhaps he shouldn't have.
Playing alongside Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell in the British Open, he managed only eight holes before he called it quits early in a second straight major. Oosthuizen was four-over when he bagged it at Muirfield, citing the same injury that ran him off Merion.
The golfer didn't even try to tee it up in the PGA Championship, meaning he only managed to play three-and-a-half rounds of golf in the 2013 majors.
Talk about your wasted seasons.
9. Rickie Fowler
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Rickie Fowler is still a young golfer by any measure, but one has to wonder what is stalling his progress so mightily.
Since turning pro in 2009, Fowler has won only once on the PGA Tour and seems to be treading water while other top Americans are surging. That was indeed the case in this season’s biggest tournaments.
Yes, Fowler did register a top 10 at the U.S. Open, but after a second-round 76, he was never really in contention at Merion. He finished a full six shots behind winner Justin Rose.
Fowler also managed a tie for 19th at the PGA Championship. Yet in ideal scoring conditions, the 24-year-old never managed a round better than a two-under 68 when others around him were going low, low, low at Oak Hill.
At the Open Championship, things went off the rails early as Fowler opened with a seven-over 78 en route to missing the cut by a good margin at 12-over.
Those adequate to poor showings were preceded by a rather pedestrian tie for 38th at Augusta National in which the former Oklahoma State star posted a closing-round six-over 78 to tumble down the leaderboard.
Potential is a heavy weight often carried by golfers with great expectations. Since turning professional, Fowler is struggling underneath it...especially in majors.
8. Bill Haas
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Despite sitting sixth in the FedEx Cup standings as the playoffs are preparing to start, Bill Haas failed to contend in any of the season’s four major championships.
In fact, he only managed to make the cut in two of them.
The 2011 FedEx Cup champion got off to a decent start at the Masters, finishing in a tie for 20th at one-over. That said, he failed to post a single round in the 60s and went under par only once during the tournament. That’s no way to win a green jacket.
Haas put forth a similar effort at the season’s final major, where he also posted a final score of one-over and finished tied for 25th. He opened with a 68 at Oak Hill but never went under par again during the PGA Championship.
In between those two performances, things went poorly for Haas, who failed to make the cut at either the U.S. Open or the British Open.
At Merion, The American opened with a dismal seven-over 77 and ended up missing the cut by three shots at 11-over after a second-round 74.
Rather ironically, he produced the exact same 77-74 performance at the British Open just a month later. At nine-over, Haas missed the cut by just one shot only a couple weeks after winning the AT&T National.
Now nearly a decade into his career, the five-time PGA Tour winner needs to start getting more out of his major performances.
7. Webb Simpson
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Webb Simpson achieved a career breakthrough with his 2012 U.S. Open Championship at The Olympic Club.
Since that triumph, however, he hasn't won again and has failed to challenge late in a single major.
Simpson’s best major finish in 2013 was a tie for 25th at the PGA Championship. The American fired a second-round six-under 64 at Oak Hill to surge into contention, but followed that up with a Saturday 73 and wasn't a factor down the stretch.
Things were much worse earlier in the year as Simpson missed the cut at the Masters by one shot at five-over.
He struggled again in his U.S. Open title defense at Merion, putting together back-to-back 75s in Rounds 2 and 3 to disappear from contention. He closed with a 72 to finish in a tie for 32nd, 12 shots behind Rose at 13-over.
At Muirfield, Simpson had the worst weekend of his championship season, firing consecutive 77s to tumble from contention after 36 holes to 16 shots behind Phil Mickelson’s winning mark when it was all said and done.
Simpson has his major championship, and that certainly validates his career. Yet since that victory, he hasn't had very much success to speak of.
6. Ian Poulter
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Ian Poulter saw four more opportunities to remove himself from the list of one of the best golfers in the world without a major title come and go in 2013.
None was more painful than the 2013 Open Championship.
Despite a spirited final-round 67 at Muirfield, Poulter finished four shots behind Mickelson. Yet had it not been for a dreadful third-round four-over 75, that Sunday charge might have been enough to earn the Englishman the Claret Jug.
Instead, he had to settle for a tie for third.
That missed opportunity was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing 2013 run through the majors for Poulter, who began the season with a missed cut at the Masters.
At the U.S. Open, he played well early but then struggled down the stretch. Poulter shot a 73 on Saturday and then closed with 76, leaving him in a tie for 21st, 10 shots behind fellow countryman Rose.
At Oak Hill, he finished in a tie for 61st.
Poulter has plenty of style to his game, yet he still lacks the substance of a major title.
5. Bubba Watson
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Bubba Watson hasn't won a golf tournament since his emotional 2012 Masters victory and wasn't even close to breaking through in this year’s four majors.
In fact, the American’s best performance in 2013 was a tie for 32nd, which he repeated twice while failing to contend a single time.
Things got off to a bumpy start at Augusta National where Watson struggled early in his green jacket defense and was fortunate to make the cut on the number at four-over. The Floridian played the final 36 holes in three-over and finished in a tie for 50th.
Watson’s finish in the U.S. Open was nearly 20 spots better, but his score in relation to par certainly wasn't. After a decent one-over 71 to start thing out at Merion, a second-round 76 sent him tumbling down the leaderboard and out of contention. He finished tied for 32nd at 13-over.
A similar fate befell the world’s 23rd-ranked player in the British Open where a third-round six-over 77 ultimately landed Watson into another tie for 32nd, this time at nine-over for the championship.
Watson missed the cut in the PGA Championship by one shot after finishing the first two rounds at four-over.
It was a fitting end to a difficult season for the talented golfer who had reached such lofty heights just a season before.
4. Graeme McDowell
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How bad was Graeme McDowell’s performance in the 2013 majors? He only made the cut in half of them and couldn't manage a finish higher than a tie for 12th in any of them.
McDowell has won twice this season, including a PGA Tour victory at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links.
That victory, however, came just a week after the Irishman struggled to five-over and missed the cut by one shot at Augusta National.
Things were even worse at the U.S. Open where the world's ninth-ranked golfer went a confounding 76-77 in the two opening rounds to miss the cut by five shots.
A return to Europe for the British Open improved things for McDowell, but not by a whole lot.
He countered an opening-round 75 with an even-par effort to easily make his first cut of the year in a major.
A final-round 77 at Muirfield, however, sent the former U.S. Open champion tumbling down the leaderboard to 12-over and in 58th place.
Perhaps building to a better 2014 campaign, McDowell was much improved in the season’s final major. He twice shot in the 60s, including a closing-round four-under 66 that earned him a tie for 12th.
3. Luke Donald
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An Englishman finally won a major championship for the first time since Nick Faldo in 1996. It just wasn't the one we thought it would be.
After his 2013 U.S. Open triumph, Rose is a major winner. Luke Donald, however, continues to wait for the breakthrough performance so many expected so long ago.
The former world No. 1 missed the cut in two of the four majors this year and continues to be one of the best two or three golfers in the world without a major title on his resume.
Donald had his best chance to capture that career-defining win this year at the U.S. Open when he entered the final round just a couple strokes off the pace of Phil Mickelson.
He sputtered to a five-over 75 in the final round, however, and had to settle for an eighth-place tie, five shots behind Rose.
That finish was certainly disappointing, but the rest of Donald’s summer was absolutely forgettable. The former Northwestern University standout opened the British Open with a nine-over 80 and missed the Muirfield cut at 10-over.
Three weeks later, Donald continued that poor form, missing the cut by two shots at the PGA Championship. Despite stellar scoring conditions at Oak Hill, Donald played the first 36 holes at five-over.
The Ryder Cup standout managed to start the major season in decent form with a tie for 25th at the Masters.
Yet at 35 years old, Donald needs a lot more than decent if he is going to finally win that elusive championship he covets.
2. Tiger Woods
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Despite five victories on the PGA Tour in 2013, Tiger Woods failed to win a major championship for the fifth straight season.
As a result, Woods’ quest to pass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 career majors remains hopelessly stalled until next year.
Indeed, Woods' season has been the tale of two players: dominant in regular tour starts and anything but in the year’s biggest events.
At the 2013 U.S. Open, Woods battled injury and a poor short game to finish the tournament at 13-over, bad enough for a tie for 32nd at Merion. It was the worst major performance of his career in relation to par, but Tiger had another stinker waiting in the wings.
At Oak Hill, the world No. 1 couldn't get a thing going all week even while many of the world’s best players were going deep under par in the final major of the year.
Even when Woods did contend, he managed to shoot himself in the foot.
Woods was near the lead in the second round of the Masters when he was nearly disqualified for a bad drop on the 15th hole. In the end, he took a two-shot penalty and never recovered, finishing in a tie for fourth.
At Muirfield, Woods held a share of the third-round lead with Lee Westwood when he hit an awful second shot on the par-five 15th into a cross bunker about 100 yards short of the green. He would make bogey and Westwood would birdie, leaving Tiger two back heading into the final round instead of tied.
Woods fired a final-round 74 and was a Sunday non-factor, finishing in a tie for eighth.
For some professionals, posting a pair of top 10s in golf’s most important championships is a solid season. For Tiger, winning is everything; and he’s now gone 18 straight starts in majors without capturing a 15th title.
That makes the 2013 majors a significant disappointment for the world’s best golfer by the very standards he has set for himself.
1. Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy began the year as the reigning 2012 PGA champion and with many wondering how many of golf's four big events he would capture in 2013.
He left last week's PGA Championship at Oak Hill winless and by far the sport’s biggest disappointment of the season.
Having dropped from the top of the world rankings down to No. 3, McIlroy did manage to post a top 10 at Oak Hill in his PGA defense, but did so while from the fringe of contention for most of the tournament.
In fact, late in his second round, the Irishman was in danger of missing the cut before a streak of birdies got him into the weekend. He finished in a tie for eighth at three-under.
Missing the cut, however, is exactly what he did at the Open Championship a month earlier.
He followed that up with a 75 on Friday to cement that early exit.
At the front of the season, McIlroy played well early at Augusta National but then swallowed a third-round 79 to play his way out of the tournament with authority.
Things got worse at the U.S. Open where McIlroy failed to post a single under-par round and shot 11-over on the weekend to finish at 14-over and in a tie for 41st.
Twelve months ago, McIlroy wasn't just the game’s best young player; he was its best overall next to Tiger. Today, he’s seeking to regain even a sliver of his confidence as the 2013 campaign nears its end.
What a difference a year can make.