Who's next in line for a breakthrough major?

By Randall MellJuly 8, 2013, 8:09 pm

Inbee Park will create a buzz when she heads to St. Andrews next month in an attempt to become the first man or woman to win four professional majors in a single season, but the men will also be looking to keep a slam of sorts going when the British Open is played at Muirfield next week.

Call it the Breakthrough Slam.

Golf likes to roll out storylines in themes, and breaking through major-championship funks is definitely the theme in the men’s game going to Muirfield.

In Adam Scott winning his first major at the Masters in April and Justin Rose winning his first at the U.S. Open last month, we saw fulfillment of promise for a pair of 32-year-old former prodigies whose careers had veered through frustrating turns.

Scott ended an 0-for-47 run in the majors with his breakthrough, Rose an 0-for-36 run.

So who best fits the mold to keep this breaking-through major frustration going as a storyline at Muirfield?

Our top candidates:


At 33, Garcia has probably endured more major-championship frustration than Scott and Rose combined. In that respect, nobody fits the breakthrough theme better.

Garcia is 0 for 59 trying to win a major.

Like Scott and Rose, Garcia was a prodigy, the boy who would be king coming out of the amateur ranks. The colorful Spaniard looked certain to rack up more than one major-championship triumph after his terrific challenge of Tiger Woods fell short in the '99 PGA Championship at Medinah. As a 19-year-old, Garcia finished second to Woods there, the first of Garcia’s three runner-up finishes in majors. His other seconds came in the ’07 British Open at Carnoustie, when he led through the first three rounds before losing to Padraig Harrington in a playoff, and in the ’08 PGA Championship, when Harrington beat him down the stretch at Oakland Hills. Overall, Garcia has finished T-5 or better in nine majors.

With his confounding history, Garcia has all but shaken his fist at the golf gods, who he seems to suspect have conspired against him. With his more recent controversy over remarks he made about Woods, Garcia faced heckling at Merion in this last U.S. Open. In an odd sort of way, it might have been good for Garcia, who showed admirable restraint enduring the negative vibes.

At Merion, Garcia showed toughness and patience playing a difficult course, and, for him, a difficult venue. Though he knocked a small handful of shots out of bounds, Garcia endured showing the kind of toughness that could lead to a breakthrough at Muirfield, where he tied for eighth in ’02. He needs that kind of resolve to break through.


At 40, Westwood’s time is beginning to run out.

Only seven players in the history of golf have broken through to win their first major championship after turning 40. Old Tom Morris did it in the second British Open ever played back in 1861. Darren Clarke was the last to do it, winning the British Open at 42 in 2011. Also accomplishing the feat were Mark O'Meara (41) at the '98 Masters, Tom Kite (42) at the ’92 U.S. Open, Roberto De Vicenzo (44) at the ’67 British Open and Tommy Bolt (42) at the ’58 U.S. Open.

Westwood is 0 for 61 in majors with seven T-3 or better finishes in the last five years. Overall, he has finished T-5 or better nine times in majors. He was second to Louis Oosthuizen in the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews.


At 35, Donald needs no extra motivation trying to break through and win his first major, but watching Scott and Rose must have emboldened him to believe his time will come, too.

He’s looking to end his 0-for-40 run in majors.

Though Donald has never really given himself a chance to win in the closing scenes of a major, he has finished T-5 or better in five of them, including last year’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

His putting stroke, one of the best in golf, is wanting only in that it hasn’t given him a chance to make a putt that wins a major.


At 37, Poulter knows how to deliver under pressure on large stages.

He just hasn’t done it in a major.

His performances helping win Ryder Cups, especially his performance at Medinah in 2011, leave no doubt he has the backbone for the big moments. He just hasn’t had the total game to give himself enough chances to win majors. He is 0 for 42 in majors with his best chance coming at the British Open in ’08, when he finished second to Harrington. His only other top-five finish in a major was at last year’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, where he tied for third.


At 35, Kuchar’s ability to consistently put himself in position to win bodes well heading to Muirfield. So does his upward trend in majors. He is 0 for 31 in majors but has finished T-9 or better in three of the last six majors. He has two PGA Tour victories already this season with six finishes of T-10 or better.


At 32, Snedeker is the perfect age to follow suit behind Scott and Rose.

With some close calls in majors, Snedeker has given himself a taste of what it’s like to contend in the biggest events. He’s just 0 for 23 in majors but has experienced the pain that is sometimes necessary before a breakthrough. He started the final round of the ’08 Masters two shots off the lead before tying for third when Trevor Immelman won. He also tied for third at last year’s British Open, finishing four shots behind champion Ernie Els.

With a victory earlier this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and an injury setback (ribs), Snedeker’s season has been a mixed bag looking for another upturn at Muirfield.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.