Top 10 Players Without A Major
No. 10 ' Scott Hoch
At the 1989 Masters, 24 inches of real estate was all that stood between Scott Hoch and his first major win. He had led Nick Faldo by one at No. 17, but missed a par putt to fall back into a tie going to the 72nd hole. After matching scores there, they went to overtime. On the first hole of the sudden death playoff at No. 10, Faldo made a bogey 5 and Hoch was left with a two-footer for the green jacket. He botched it. Faldo would go on to win the next hole and the coat. Two years prior at the PGA Championship, Hoch began the final round seven shots off the lead, but a tragic ending on the 72nd hole erased what should have been a championship-clenching round. He three-putted from 6 feet, opening the door for Larry Nelson. Though he notched 11 career Tour victories and had 15-career top-10 finishes in the majors, he will forever be remembered, fairly or unfairly, for what he didn't do.
John Hawkins, Golf Word: 'Obviously that little miss at the Masters stayed with him for a long time. He was a great ball-striker and a streaky putter. I think Hoch had such a U.S. Open-friendly game that I'm surprised he wasn't able to win a major.'
Nick Faldo, three-time Masters champion: 'If you watch by my reaction (when Hoch missed the 2-footer), my face didn't really even change. I thought, I've been given another chance. And I was able to take it. I'm sure he will obviously rue that for the rest of his life.'
Scott Hoch: 'What we're talking about is winning majors, and that's what makes a career special. I've had some opportunities and haven't done it.'
No. 9 ' Jane Blalock
For someone who holds numerous records in golf, Jane Blalock also carries the dubious distinction of having the most wins on the LPGA without a major. With 27 victories, she was the first player in LPGA history to win more than $100,000 in a season four straight years. Blalock did not miss a cut from 1969 through the last event of 1980 ' a stretch of 299 tournaments ' which still stands as the tour record. She finished runner-up twice at the LPGA Championship. And she won the Colgate Dinah Shore Winner's Circle in 1972 ' an event later elevated to major status. Yet, in the golf annuls, you will find no major victories listed by her name.
Dr. Robert Winters, sports psychologist: 'Before there was Tiger Woods, there was Jane Tiger Blalock. When I first saw her play she was the one player that actually had a dynamic thrust into the ball, she could compress the ball. She did win the Colgate Dinah Shore, now considered a major.'
Donna Caponi, Golf Channel broadcaster: 'The consistency of Jane Blalock was a situation where she just didnt miss a cut and was always in contention. Anytime somebody said to me, who do you think is going to win a golf tournament, the one thing I look at is who has been finishing in the top-5 or the top-10 in the last few weeks, and you'd always see Jane Blalocks name up there. If youre leading the golf tournament and someone asks whos the one person on that leaderboard that you might fear, at a stage in Jane Blalocks career you would say Jane could come out of nowhere and all of a sudden be right there on your heels.'
Judy Dickinson, LPGA historian: 'She played during an era where there were less majors available with two most of her career and three most of it also. So it was very difficult for them to break through sometimes.'
Martin Davis, The American Golfer: 'A wonderful player on the LPGA. She won 27 times, yet never won a major. She didnt miss a cut for 12 years and theres not much more you can say about her. A very consistent and a good player. A very good player.'
No. 8 ' Doug Sanders
Doug Sanders endured some championship heartbreaks in his time ' including four second-place finishes at majors. But none were more heart-wrenching than the 1970 British Open Championship. On the 72nd hole, he was one shot clear of Jack Nicklaus, and 30 inches away from clenching the claret jug. Sanders missed the gimme putt and then went on to lose to Nicklaus in a playoff. Now, when Doug Sanders' name comes up, it's that putt that everyone always remembers. And it's the one Sanders will never be able to forget, having once said, 'Sometimes I go as high as five minutes without even thinking about it.'
Doug Sanders, on the 1970 Open Championship: 'I looked down on that green and I thought I saw a little pebble. But it was where the sun had made one of those little spots brown. I started to pick it up and then realized it wasn't anything. And then I never got myself in the right stance. ... You don't win until you win. And I was thinking about which side of the gallery to which I'd bow to. There I was needing this putt, and I was putting all the other stuff in front of me, before I even won the championship.'
Jaime Diaz, Golf World: 'He said that if he could have five strokes back, or re-arrange five strokes, he would've won four majors. Hes a great player whos not remembered as a great enough player because of that.'
Bill Fields, Golf World: 'He was known for his loud outfits and his late nights. But Doug Sanders could really play and was one of the superb ball-strikers of the 1960s and '70s.'
Bob Valvano, sports broadcaster: 'His career is outstanding. Twenty wins on Tour, four runners-up in the majors. This is a guy that was always there, he was always right there.'
No. 7 ' Bruce Crampton
Perhaps no one knows the cruel side of fortune in golf more than Bruce Crampton. You may have forgotten about the Australian native who, from 1972 to 1975, won five PGA Tour events and twice won the Vardon trophy for lowest scoring average. And it's because of Jack Nicklaus, who, during that same stretch, won 21 tour events and five major championships. Of those five major victories, Crampton finished runner-up to the Golden Bear a remarkable four times.
Martin Davis, The American Golfer: 'Bruce Crampton was a terrific player who seemed to always rise to the occasion when Jack (Nicklaus) rose to the occasion just a little bit more. Finishing second to jack with the way Jack could finish tournaments, its a little bit of a solace, and it carries a little bit more weight when you finish second to Jack.'
No. 6 ' MacDonald Smith
One of three Scottish brothers who immigrated to America before World War I, Smith won 24 PGA Tour events from 1924 -1936. Ten times he finished within three strokes of either the British Open or the U.S. Open, but he could never win the big one. Two of his brothers did, though. Willie Smith won the U.S. Open in 1899 and Alex Smith in both 1906 and 1910. Mac actually lost the 1910 U.S. Open to brother Alex in a playoff. Talk about sibling rivalry. But it wasn't just his brothers who stood in his way of a major. During Bobby Jones' historic grand slam season in 1930, Smith endured playoff defeats to Jones in both the U.S. and British Open. When Jones retired, it seemed Smith was poised to finally capture the elusive major. However, Gene Sarazen, golf's next superstar, denied him once again, winning the 1932 British open in record fashion.
Martin Davis, The American Golfer: 'MacDonald Smith had a silky, elegant swing. The youngest of three brothers, he came close in 1910. Nobody really felt sorry for him because they thought, 'boy, he's such a good player, he'll win one of these, or maybe many of them.' His failure to win, it was claimed, grew into, or developed into, a complex where he just couldn't win. '
No. 5 ' Peter Oosterhuis
Peter Oosterhuis stood atop the PGA European Tour Order of Merit for four consecutive seasons, 1971 to 1974 ' a record that stood until 1997. He captured 20 victories worldwide was the runner-up in the British Open Championship in 1974 and 1982, and in 1973 led the Masters after three rounds before finishing third. He also led The Open Championship after the first and second rounds in 1975 before finishing tied for seventh, just three shots off the lead.
Martin Davis, The American Golfer: 'If you know Peter a little bit or you get to now him through time on television it sorta breaks your heart out of all the players that came along being a Brit the one who should have won was the Open, it would have meant a lot to the people in great Britain and it certainly would have meant a lot to Peter. But hes certainly one of the great guys in golf.'
Nick Faldo, Golf Channel commentator: 'He was the sort of player that could have won a British Open because of his the sheer, great competitiveness and his ability to get up and down.'
Peter Oosterhuis, Golf Channel commentator: 'I'm not haunted at all by having near-misses in majors. I'm very proud of my career.'
No. 4 ' Jug McSpaden
No one knows why or when Harold L. McSpaden received his nickname 'Jug' ' not even the man himself. But people may remember how he came to be known as the best second-place finisher of his time. In the 1930s and 40s, McSpaden regularly played against Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen McSpaden ' some steep competition ' and he was a runner-up to those gentlemen 13 times in majors. But it was friend Nelson who was his real nemesis. McSpaden and Nelson finished 1-2 so often that they became known as the 'Gold Dust Twins.' McSpaden once joked with Nelson, 'If you wouldn't have been born, I'd have been known as a pretty good player.'
Martin Davis, The American Golfer: 'I was lucky enough to meet McSpaden before he passed away ' a really nice man. He was Byron Nelsons best friend on the tour. As a matter of fact, in the days in the late 30s and 40s and that early era of golf, they used to have a lot of team events and Jug Mcspaden used to play with Bryon, they used to travel together, their wives were best friends. Jugs son is named after Byron. They would play together in a lot of the team events and they won quite a few. They even won one of the events during Bryons streak. Its almost hard to believe, but in 1945 when Byron won the 18 tournaments, McSpaden finished second 13 times and thats just an incredible statistic. He was one of the good players, one of the better players, but he never won a major.'
No. 3 ' Judy Rankin
Judy Rankin actually won two majors ' unfortunately, at the time, the tournaments weren't recognized as such. In 1976, Rankin captured the Colgate Dinah Shore Winner's Circle (now the Kraft Nabisco) and the Peter Jackson Classic (later known as 'duMaurier') in 1977. Both events would later be elevated to major status. Still, the first woman to be inducted into the LPGA Hall-of-Fame, Rankin had an impressive career. She was the LPGA's Player of the Year twice and won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average three times ' and all while fighting chronic back pain that would eventually force her out of golf. She also captained the victorious American teams in the 1996 and 1998 Solheim Cups.
Jaime Diaz, Golf World: 'She won 26 times on the LPGA, she contended many majors, shes a Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, she just didnt happen to have her great weeks when a major was at stake. Judy was one of those players that was really placid on the outside and really churning on the inside. Shes had such a great career as an announcer, she probably doesnt have any regrets. Her life in golf has been beautiful.'
Donna Caponi: 'In 1976 and '77, Judy Rankin was the star of the LPGA. She was the face of the LPGA. The two events that Judy won are now majors. She had such a terrific career, and winning those two tournaments, we were hoping that they would make those majors for Judy. Its just unfortunate they havent made those retroactive.'
Judy Dickinson, LPGA historian: 'She was an extremely consistent player. You could argue that she was probably the best player of the early 70s even though she didnt win a major. There were very few majors then. She was someone that everyone looked up to and she served as (LPGA) president for two years. And like most of our great players, she felt a responsibility to the tour.'
No. 2 ' Harry Cooper
Thirty-one career PGA Tour wins. Nineteen career top-10s in majors. The inaugural Vardon trophy winner in 1937. A bonafide World Golf Hall of Fame member. Yes, Harry Lighthorse Cooper, nicknamed for his fast playing style, was quite an accomplished golfer. However, the 'M' word would always haunt him because he came so achingly close many times. After holding the lead at the 1927 U.S. Open at Oakmont in the final round, he relinquished it to Tommy Armour on the last two holes and ending up losing to Armour in an 18-hole playoff. He also finished second at the 1936 U.S. Open and in the 1936 and 1938 Masters.
Harry Cooper: 'It was disappointing as hell (not winning a major). And the reason was that there were so many things that happened that I had nothing to do with.'
No. 1 ' Colin Montgomerie
At 42-years-old, in what would likely be his last chance to shed his Best Golfer Never To Have Won A Major tag, Colin Montgomerie walked to the par 4 -18th hole on Sunday of the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and proceeded to double bogey the 72nd hole. After storming off the green, Monty eventually emerged to address the media saying, I look forward to coming back here again next year and try another U.S. Open disaster. Yes, a record eight Order of Merit titles, including a streak of seven consecutively from 1993 to 1999, and 31 European tour victories is a fantastic career. But, one wonders, how many of those achievements would the Scot trade for a single major championship?
Jeff Rude, Golfweek: 'In the modern era of men, Colin Montgomerie has probably been the most tortured guy who has never won a major.'
Rex Hoggard, GolfChannel.com: 'The defining moment to me was him walking off the 18th green at Winged Foot. Ive never seen a man in so much pain in my entire life. He just shook his head and closed his eyes and muttered to himself or whoever, ya know why do i put myself through this? The pain of coming that close and realizing that he had let it go again ' probably his last chance. Hes taken the game all over the globe. hes won everywhere outside the united states really.'
Jaime Diaz, Golf World: 'He was right there in three or four of them. Of course what happened to him at Winged Foot, he probably felt worse than Phil.
Tom Abbott, Golf Channel: 'I think people in the U.S. focused a lot more on Mickelson, it was Mickelson had blown it. And people in the U.K. said Monty blew it. You had that divide because obviously youre closer to your fellow country people.'
Bob Butka, radio broadcaster: 'I watched Colin Montgomerie finish up at Congressional. And the scoring trailer was up by the swimming pool and there was a table about a hundred yards away and I watched Colin Montgomerie come out of that scorers trailer, go to this table and cry like a baby for a good 30 minutes with nobody around him. It was painful to watch. I mean, he was starting to realize that, 'hey, maybe its not gonna happen for me.'
Renton Laidlaw, Golf Channel commentator: 'When you list the players who have not won a Major, one man comes immediately to mind, Colin Montgomerie. He tries to laugh it off, 'Ive had a wonderful career, Ive done so much in golf,' and he has, winning regularly, but not having a major title to his name is something that does upset him. Hes to good a golfer not to have won a major in his career.'
Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.
At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.
Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.
In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.
Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.
Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.
Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.
Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.
''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.
''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''
Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.
''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.
''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''
Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.
Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.
''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''
Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.
Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.
''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''
The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.
''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''
The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.
''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'
Joel Dahmen had a 64.
''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.
''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''
Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.
''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''
He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.
''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.
Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.
''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.
Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.
Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.
Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.
Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence
NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.
Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.
Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.
“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”
Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.
With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.
“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.
Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.
Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season.
“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.
Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.
Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.
Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.
Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.
Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.
Nobody has ever swept all those awards.
There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.
“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”
Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.
The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.