Back in 1999, Sergio was locked in a duel with Tiger at Medinah with the PGA Championship hanging in the balance. Tiger, of course, won the battle that day, but in the process 'El Niño' was officially anointed as the next 'can't miss golf superstar.' The next Tiger, if you will.
Fast-forward nine years to 2008 and Sergio is still without a major championship to his name – a name that, much like Tiger, doesn't require a surname to be recognized. Over that time, however, there have been quite a few close calls as well as some strange twists of fate: 54-hole leads vanishing into thin air, frightening canary-colored outfits, rugs pulled out from under him, and, of course this year, best friend (wink, wink) Padraig Harrington ripping another major from his grasp.
This, paradoxically, is much like the career path of Mickelson, the man he just passed in the world rankings. 'Lefty', now the owner of three majors, was for a long time famously – or infamously – known as the ‘best player to never win a major.’ He had all the talent in the world, but was seemingly at odds with the golfing gods. Sergio, too, looks as if he has inherited Mickelson’s all-you-can-ride rollercoaster pass, enough to cause a mere mortal to disappear from the planet. His 2008 season being a perfect example:
And now with his rise to the No. 2 ranking in the world, Sergio is unanimously the best player to never win a major. And it is not lost on the Spaniard: “I have been trying for a while (to get to No. 2), but winning a major is the next goal.”
In a sport often criticized for the lack of personalities, Sergio, burns bright – although many times that brightness is not cast in the most forgiving light. No person, aside from Tiger, produced more drama than Sergio in 2008.
And in the era of Tiger Woods, being No. 2 is like being No. 1. Kinda like The Players being the ‘fifth major.’