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PGA Tour: 5 Players with the Best Shot at Winning First Major in 2012

Carlos TorresContributor IOctober 29, 2016

PGA Tour: 5 Players with the Best Shot at Winning First Major in 2012

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    Every year in golf there are four major championships played, the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.

    And the mandatory question every time is, who has the best shot at winning his first major championship? Most of the time, that question comes hand-in-hand with the one about who is the best player in the world without having won a major.

    And after every major, we keep updating those lists. Some will actually win it, others will surprise us, while the rest will disappoint us. It's an ever-changing list, and one that will always bring different opinions and contrasting views.

    No matter what, it's always good to keep analyzing and predicting who will finally do it in the next major.

    The following list is based on players that have been around for at least 10 years on tour. They can also be on that list of the best players without a major, and as time passes by, their window for winning it shrinks and the pressure grows.

    Let's take a look at the five players who I believe are the best candidates to get that first major that has been eluding them throughout their careers.

Paul Casey

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    Age: 34

    OGWR: 22

    Best Finishes in a Major

    Masters: T6 (2004)

    US Open: T10 (2007)

    The Open: T3 (2010)

    PGA: T12 (2010)

    In 2011, Casey was slowed down for most of the year with an injury to his right foot (turf toe), which made it painful to shift his weight in his swing.

    He took an herbal treatment prior to the Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea, which apparently worked wonders, as he won the tournament. While he lost his PGA Tour card, he should be able to play in the four majors, the WGCs and The Players, since he is still No. 22 in the world. 

    He seemed to have been on his way to a great year in 2011 before getting injured. His game looks to be getting back on track, and in 2012 we could see him finally getting his first major. 

Steve Stricker

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    Age: 44

    OGWR: 4

    Best Finishes in a Major

    Masters: T6 (2009)

    US Open: Fifth (1998), T5 (1999)

    The Open: T7 (2008)

    PGA: Second (1998)

    The top American player has been slowed down by a herniated disk in his neck, and is still dealing with weakness in his left arm and hand.

    After further review by the PGA, Stricker's streak of cuts made is at 42 consecutive tournaments, the longest active streak. That consistency, along with being one of the best ball strikers in the game, has him in contention most of the time. 

    This year he had top 20 finishes in all majors, and has eight top 10s in his career. 

    If he is able to successfully deal with his herniated disk and be back at full health for 2012, we could see him getting that first major—maybe at Augusta. 

K.J. Choi

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    Age: 41

    OGWR: 13

    Best Finishes in a Major

    Masters: Third (2004)

    US Open: T15 (2005)

    The Open: T8 (2007)

    PGA: T6 (2004)

    The "Tank" from South Korea was the first player from that nation to earn a PGA Tour card, and for the past 10 years, he has been one of the most consistent players on tour.

    In his career, he has been ranked inside the top 10 or near it (he is currently 13th). 

    For the past two years he has finished in the top 10 (T4, T8) at the Masters, and the third time could be the charm for him.

    In May this year, Choi had the biggest win of his career, when he won The Players Championship in a playoff against David Toms. 

    Now that Choi won "the Fifth Major" in 201,1 he could very well win one of "the Big Four."

Sergio Garcia

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    Age: 31

    OGWR: 31

    Best Finishes in a Major

    Masters: T4 (2004)

    US Open: T3 (2005)

    The Open: Second (2007)

    PGA: Second (1999), T2 (2008)

    Since he turned pro after shooting the lowest amateur score in the 1999 Masters, great things have been expected from him.

    He's had his share of close calls in the majors, most notably his mano-a-mano duel with Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship, where he eventually finished second.

    He went into a slump in 2009 and went into a sabbatical early in 2010, mainly because of the problems he had with his putting. 

    He returned in late 2010 with a new putting grip (saw grip), and in 2011 he looked refreshed and his game has been catching up, back to prominence.

    He just won his second successive victory on the European Tour with a one-shot victory at the Andalucia Masters, and should carry that momentum into 2012. 

    Look for him to contend in all majors next year and have a great chance at stopping his near-misses.

Luke Donald

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    Age: 33

    OGWR: 1

    Best Finishes in a Major

    Masters: T3 (2005)

    US Open: T12 (2006)

    The Open: T5 (2009)

    PGA: T3 (2006)

    The World's No. 1 player is just having the best year of his career. 

    He just won the PGA Tour Money Title, the points-based PGA of America Player of the Year award and the coveted Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average. 

    He is bidding to become the first player ever to win the money titles on both the PGA and European Tours.

    Donald's amazing 14 top 10 finishes in 19 PGA Tour starts this year, along with his two wins, have him as the front-runner for the PGA Tour Player of the Year award, which is based on balloting of tour members.

    The way he played this year, and the way he went out and won the PGA Tour Money title, showed a different Luke Donald. The one that is ready to take his game to that next level, which will take him to finally earn his first major.

    Should he finally win the European Money title and the PGA Tour POY award, his confidence level will be at an all-time high. And right now it looks like just a matter of which of the four majors next year will be the one he will win first.

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