Top 5 players to never win the U.S. Open

By Doug FergusonJune 12, 2012, 1:10 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – One of the most popular labels in golf is the best to have never won a major.

Here's another one – best to never win a U.S. Open.

Sam Snead might have won his national open if he had only known the score. Greg Norman is the only player to lose all four stroke-play majors in a playoff, and it started with the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Phil Mickelson has more silver medals than he wants.

All of them are major champions. All of them are in the Hall of Fame. None is on the roll call of champions for the U.S. Open.

Here are the five best players to never have won golf's second-oldest championship:


5. HARRY 'LIGHTHORSE' COOPER

No player won more PGA Tour titles without capturing a major than Harry 'Lighthorse' Cooper, who won 29 times. The U.S. Open is the major that haunted him more than the others.

Cooper was a two-time runner-up in the U.S. Open, and both times he had the lead going into the final round.

In 1927 at Oakmont, he was one shot ahead of Tommy Armour, closed with a 77 and lost to Armour by three shots in an 18-hole playoff. Nine years later at Baltusrol, Cooper had a two-shot lead over Vic Ghezzi. Tony Manero came out of nowhere with a 67 on the final day to win by one shot over Cooper, who shot 73. What made the 1936 U.S. Open particularly painful for Cooper was that only two months later, Horton Smith rallied on the last day to beat him in the Masters.


4. NICK FALDO

Always a thinker, Nick Faldo was looking for the secret to winning when he met with Ben Hogan and asked him what it takes to win the U.S. Open.

'Shoot the lowest score,' Hogan replied.

Faldo, a three-time Masters and British Open champion, never quite figured that out. Even during his 10-year run in the majors, and despite having U.S. Open qualities of accuracy off the tee and grinding away at pars, his best chance came in 1988 at The Country Club. Faldo fell into a tie with Curtis Strange with three holes to play when he took bogey from a bunker. Still tied after Strange three-putted the 17th, Faldo had a 25-foot putt from the fringe to win and settled for par. Strange made a superb bunker save on the 18th for par to force a playoff. Strange wound up winning the playoff by four shots for the first of his consecutive U.S. Open titles.


3. GREG NORMAN

Greg Norman was lucky to get into a playoff at Winged Foot in 1984 when he holed a 40-foot par putt. Back in the fairway, Fuzzy Zoeller assumed it was for birdie and twirled a white towel. Norman's putt allowed him to get into an 18-hole playoff Monday, and while the Shark was favored, Zoeller put on a clinic. This time, it was Norman waving the white flag in mock surrender. He was runner-up that day, though surely there would be more chances in his bright future.

There were. But he never won a U.S. Open.

Norman was atop the leaderboard going into the final round at Shinnecock Hills in 1986 and in 1995, both times watching someone else (Raymond Floyd, Corey Pavin) hit the shots and hole the putts required of a U.S. Open champion.

Norman only won two majors in his Hall of Fame career, both in the British Open. He won more than 70 tournaments around the world, was No. 1 longer than any other player until Tiger Woods came along and was a dominant figure in golf for a decade.


2. PHIL MICKELSON

Phil Mickelson has been playing the U.S. Open for 20 years, and all he has to show for it is a silver medal.

But only because the U.S. Open doesn't award the purple heart.

Mickelson might have won at Shinnecock Hills in 1995 if not for playing the par-5 16th in 6 over for the week. He nearly got into a playoff at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999 until Payne Stewart made a 15-footer for par on the last hole. Five shots behind going into the last day at Bethpage Black, he made Tiger Woods sweat until Woods delivered a key birdie. Mickelson also was runner-up at Bethpage Black in 2009, missing a 3-foot putt on the 15th hole to kill his momentum.

Nothing was more memorable than Winged Foot in 2006, when he had a one-shot lead playing the 18th. After a tee shot into the merchandise tents left him a decent lie, he tried to carve a 3-iron around the tree, didn't pull it off and made double bogey to finish one shot behind. 'What an idiot I am,' he famously said when it was over.

He is the modern day version of the 'People's Champion.' But he is not a U.S. Open champion.


1. SAM SNEAD

Phil Mickelson has more heartache at his national open than Snead, but when it comes to the best without a U.S. Open, none was better than the Slammer. Snead owns the PGA Tour record with 82 wins. He won a British Open at St. Andrews. He won the Masters and PGA Championship three times each. All that keeps him from joining the other greats to win the Grand Slam was the U.S. Open.

Snead was runner-up four times, but the one U.S. Open that lives in infamy was in 1939 at Philadelphia Country Club. Snead only needed a par on the 18th hole to win, but not knowing the score (there were no scoreboards posted on the 18th back then) and under the impression he needed birdie, he played aggressively off the tee and went into the rough. By the time he chopped his way through the hole, he made a triple bogey and tied for fifth.

Byron Nelson wound up winning a three-man playoff.

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Stricker wins Sanford for third Champions title of season

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 9:55 pm

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker won the inaugural Sanford International on Sunday for his third PGA Tour Champions title of the year, closing with a 3-under 67 for a four-stroke victory.

The 51-year-old Stricker birdied three of the first four holes and offset bogeys on 13 and 18 with birdies on 15 and 16. He shared the lead after each of the first two rounds, shooting 63-67 at Minnehaha Country Club.

Stricker also won in Arizona and Mississippi in consecutive starts in May for his first senior victories. Next week in France, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants.

Stricker finished at 13-under 197, and match Paul Broadhurst for the tour victory lead.

Tim Petrovic (65) and Jerry Smith (70) tied for second.

Brandt Jobe, tied for the second-round lead with Stricker, had a 72 to drop into a tie for fourth with Kevin Sutherland (67) at 8 under.

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Lewis wins Portugal Masters for second time

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 6:19 pm

VILAMOURA, Portugal – Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters for a second time after shooting a 5-under 66 in Sunday's final round.

Lewis finished three strokes ahead of fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell (67) and Australia's Lucas Herbert (71).

Sergio Garcia prepared for the Ryder Cup next weekend with a 65 to finish seven strokes behind Lewis.

Lewis made six birdies along with a single bogey on No. 10 to finish the tournament at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course on 22-under 262.

Herbert led through the first three rounds only to struggle on the final day. He hit a double bogey on the final hole to finish the round on par.

Lewis had trailed Herbert by nine shots after the first round.

''It's been a rough ride but this week I played hard,'' Lewis said. ''I obviously got off to a bad start, to finish the way I've been finishing has been brilliant.''

Lewis first won the tournament in 2011.

''I think this one means more,'' Lewis said, ''it means a lot to come and win this again.''

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Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.


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“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.