Which player will win his first major in 2012?

By Jason SobelJanuary 6, 2012, 1:18 pm

Who's the current best player to have never won a major? There's no shortage of candidates, as the current top 10 in the World Golf Ranking includes seven major-less players. Golfchannel.com's senior writers offer their predictions of which otherwise distinguished player will finally add a major to his resume in 2012.

By JASON SOBEL

Best Player To Have Never Won A Major. It’s a hell of a label, the ultimate backhanded compliment. It’s one part badge of honor, one part pang of regret.

Just ask Phil Mickelson. Dude wore that BPTHNWAM label for so long, he might as well have had it sewn into his underwear.

If there’s a saving grace for the current BPTHNWAM crew, it’s that there’s company in their misery. No longer does a single player wear that label; it’s now shared by the likes of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson, though in reality the first two on that list may own majority shares.

Instead, I’m going with another big name to be the first to win his first in 2012. I think this is finally the year for Sergio Garcia.

Just in the past year, the formerly petulant Garcia has matured not only emotionally, but technically, brandishing a putting stroke that now looks worthy of major championship hardware.

He’s right on the verge, too. Last year he made the cut in all four of ‘em and posted top-12 results in the final three. He has now been knocking on the door for more than a dozen years. That’s often seen as a sign of failure, but as Padraig Harrington so often attested after winning three major titles, getting that experience only enhances a player’s chances the next time he’s in that situation.

It’s certainly possible that Donald, Westwood or any of the five other non-major winners in the world’s current top 10 could win one this year. I’ll take Garcia, though – and with it, expect a jump into that top 10, too.


Luke Donald

By REX HOGGARD

Some observers figure that Luke Donald, despite his current 24-month tear that has lifted him to No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking and money titles on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, doesn’t have the game or the gumption to win a major championship. Some observers are wrong.

His critics point to his pedestrian record in Grand Slam events, 34 starts and just six top 10s, and a long game that is neither long, at least by professional standards, nor terribly straight. But if the last two years have taught us anything it is that bomb and gouge is overrated.

If Augusta National is the game’s ultimate putting contest, the other three majors are, at the least, a relay race with a short game anchor, and no one in golf is bobbing and weaving as well as Donald right now.

He finished 2011 first in the PGA Tour’s new strokes gained-putting category, eighth in scrambling and third in one-putt percentage.

Donald also has the experience to be this season’s major breakthrough performer. He had his best year in the majors in 2011 with top-10 finishes in both the PGA Championship and Masters, and he pulled to within one stroke of Tiger Woods at the ’06 PGA before going flat on the back nine.

Maybe Donald doesn’t scream “major champion,” but he is currently the game’s most complete player and the most likely to crack the Grand Slam ceiling this season.


Dustin Johnson

By JAY COFFIN

There have been too many close calls in majors in a relatively short PGA Tour career, but this is the year the golf gods pay back Dustin Johnson with a major championship.

Truth is, there are numerous candidates that could be selected to get off the major schneid – Luke Donald, Nick Watney, Lee Westwood, K.J. Choi, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker and Adam Scott immediately come to mind. Jason Day, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson and Justin Rose could be thrown in there as well I suppose.

Johnson, however, has more talent than anyone in the aforementioned group. He has a lot of what it takes to win majors now, but needs to putt better in pressure moments and he needs to become mentally tougher when things get going sideways.

The stats from 2011 tell us what Johnson does and doesn’t do well. He was third on Tour in driving distance but 147th in driving accuracy. He was 27th in greens hit in regulation but was 171st in strokes gained putting, a stat no one understands but anyone can figure out that ranking No. 171 won’t cut it for a world-class player.

Johnson has five PGA Tour victories and four top-10 finishes in major championships in his four-year PGA Tour career. This is the year he’ll collect the one that counts most.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."