Adam Scott and Luke Donald each won this past week, Scott in Australia and Donald in Japan. The two are on the short list of Best Players Not to Have Won a Major. Will either of them get it done in 2013? GolfChannel.com contributors weigh in with their pick for player most likely to shed the major-less label.
By RYAN LAVNER
The best player without a major is the same guy who should have captured one of golf’s biggest titles this season: Adam Scott, British Open heart-breaker.
One par. Remember, that’s all the Aussie would have needed to make over the closing stretch at Royal Lytham. Instead, he bogeyed the last four holes and lost by one. It hurts just to type.
Naturally, we wondered if Scott would be able to recover. Sure, he said optimistic things and reminded himself that he had played brilliantly for 68 holes and knew that, unfortunately, it was just one very public learning experience. While therapeutic to say aloud, major scar tissue can’t be erased in interviews, or even with a day at the spa.
Which made what Scott did in his next major start, 2 1/2 weeks later, all the more promising. At the PGA, he opened with 68 and eventually was T-11. He finished 15th or better in each of the four majors this season, and now in six of his past eight.
Since the PGA, though, he has posted four top 10s before breaking through last week with a dominating performance at the Australian Masters, a victory that wouldn’t be so significant except it was the 32-year-old’s first title since the Open debacle.
Will a win in Oz erase the sting of that meltdown? Of course not. But if nothing else, it proves he’s on his way to giving himself another major opportunity.
By DAMON HACK
If momentum is real in golf – and I believe it is – Ian Poulter is in for big things in 2013. Huge things. Major things.
Poulter may not be the best player without a major, but he doesn’t have to be to win his first major in 2013.
Lee Westwood is more decorated and Luke Donald has been world No. 1, but
Poulter has more positive mojo than either. In the hunt at the 2008 British Open at Birkdale and 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, Poulter displayed the grit, fire and love of the fight that is crucial in major championships.
Some players never rise to meet the challenge. Poulter was built for it.
At 36, Poulter is in the sweet spot of his career, needing only a major to round out his resume. He has proven himself more than capable on golf’s most pressure-filled stages, practically willing the European Ryder Cup team to a comeback victory at Medinah. His victories at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in 2010 and the WGC-HSBC Champions further displayed his tenacity against the best in the world.
Poulter is hungry for a major. In 2013, the peacock will eat.
By MERCER BAGGS
Luke Donald + Merion Golf Club = First major title. Donald hasn’t had much success in the U.S. Open – or in any major, for that matter – but this isn’t Torrey Pines South or Bethpage Black. Merion is a classic course that will play in the 6,900-yard range.
Donald’s lack of distance shouldn’t be a big disadvantage. However, his putting (third on Tour in 2012 in strokes gained putting), bunker play (20th in sand save percentage) and scrambling (fifth) should be huge assets.
Ben Hogan won eight majors championship titles after the age of 35, including the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion. Donald would like to get No. 1 at the same venue – at the age of 35.