20 best golfers never to have won a major

2015 04 4641466781

From stars of yesteryear right up to active players who have already written large chunks of their legacies with time left to add another spectacular chapter, this is our countdown of the top 20 players never to have won a major.

20 – Miller Barber

Majors played: 49
Major debut: 1961 US Open

Close shaves

The Masters: 7 (1969)
US Open: 6/T6 (1969/70)
The Open: 10 (1969)
US PGA: T4 (1971)

Barber clocked-up almost 700 starts in a successful PGA Tour career, winning 11 times. He led by three shots going into the final round of the 1969 US Open Championship in Texas but closed with an ugly 78 to finish three behind winner, Orville Moody.

Christy O'Connor

19 – Christy O’Connor Snr

Majors played: 26
Major debut: 1951 Open

Close shaves

The Masters: DNP
US Open: DNP
The Open: T2 (1965)

Irishman O’Connor only ever played in the Open, making 26 appearances and finishing in the top ten a total of ten times. A runner-up spot in 1965 delivered his best result. With 44 pro titles to his name, a major victory is all that was missing.

Commerce Bank Championship

18 – Isao Aoki

Majors played: 42
Major debut: 1974 Masters

Close shaves

The Masters: T16 (1985)
US Open: 2 (1980)
The Open: T7 (1978/79/88)
US PGA: T4 (1981)

Arguably Japan’s most successful golfer, with 77 professional victories to his name, Hall of Famer Aoki came within two shots of tying Jack Nicklaus for the 1980 US Open at Baltusrol.

Rickie Fowler

17 – Rickie Fowler

Majors played: 27
Major debut: 2008 US Open

Close shaves

The Masters: T5 (2014)
US Open: T2 (2014
The Open: T2 (2014)
US PGA: T3 (2014)

In 2014, Fowler became only the third player, along with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, to have finished in the top five in all four majors in one calendar year. With big wins at the Players and Deutsche Bank Championship, you’ve got to believe that elusive major title is just around the corner.

Chubb Classic - Round Two

16 – Loren Roberts

Majors played: 49
Major debut: 1985 US Open

Close shaves

The Masters: T3 (2000)
US Open: T2 (1994)
The Open: T7 (2000)
US PGA: T5 (1990)

Roberts sums up his lack of success in golf’s four most prestigious events succinctly and honestly: “I was a nice player, but it took me 13 years to finally figure out how to win.” Most agonising near-miss was against Ernie Els in a play-off at the US Open in 1994.

UBS Hong Kong Open - Day Three

15 – Ian Poulter

Majors played: 53
Major debut: 2000 Open

Close shaves

The Masters: T6 (2015)
US Open: T12 (2006)
The Open: 2/T3 (2008/13)
US PGA: T3 (2012)

A back nine charge on the final day of the 2008 Open saw him finish runner-up and he was tied for third at the 2012 Open and PGA. Those performances apart, however, it has been slim pickings for Poulter in the majors.

RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup - Round Three

14 – Sophie Gustafson

Majors played: 61
Major debut: 1999 Kraft Nabisco

Close shaves

Kraft Nabisco: T7 (2001)
LPGA C’ship: T6 (2007)
US Women’s Open: T10 (2006)
Women’s British Open: 2/T2 (2005/06)

The Swede is comfortably the best female golfer never to have won a major. A winner of 28 titles, including five on the LPGA, she won the Women’s British Open in 2000... the year before it was granted major status.


13 – Macdonald Smith

Majors played: 29
Major debut: 1910 US Open

Close shaves

The Masters: T7 (1934)
US Open: 2 (1930)
The Open: 2/T2

Carnoustie-born Mac was one of the pre-eminent golfers of the early 20th century and racked up no fewer than 24 PGA Tour titles in a 12-year period from 1924 to 1936, as well as five other pro titles.

Matt Kuchar

12 – Matt Kuchar

Majors played: 43
Major debut: 1998 Masters

Close shaves

The Masters: T3 (2012)
US Open: T6 (2010)
The Open: T9 (2012)
US PGA: T7 (2015)

Kuch has made a habit of winning big events, such as the WGC-Accenture Matchplay, the Players Championship, The Barclays, and so on. However, he has struggled to translate that form into contending in the events where it matters most.

The Barclays - Preview Day 3

11 – Luke Donald

Majors played: 52
Major debut: 1999 Open

Close shaves

The Masters: T3 (2005)
US Open: T8 (2013)
The Open: T5 (2009/12)
US PGA: T3 (2006)

Before Justin Rose, former world No.1 Donald was widely considered to be the most likely candidate to end an English drought in the majors. Has all the short game wizardry, if not the length off the tee, to contend in the game’s big four.


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