Roundtable: Best players without a major; will Tiger win another?
August 03, 2020
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- August 03, 2020
- Jon Rahm leads the list of top players without a major. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
This week's PGA Championship is the first -- and only -- major of the 2019-20 PGA TOUR season. It's also the first of seven majors in the next 12 months, due to shifting schedules because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Odds are we will see at least one player win his first major in these next 12 months. Not since 1971-72 have their been seven majors played without at least one first-time major winner. No surprise, that stretch included three wins by Jack Nicklaus (Nos. 9, 10 and 11 in his career); three wins by Lee Trevino (Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in his career); and a win by Gary Player (No. 6 in his career).
Plus, with Jon Rahm's recent ascension to the top of the world rankings (he's now No. 2), as well as a flurry of young talent waiting to take their success to the next level, it seems likely we'll have multiple breakthroughs.
So we asked PGATOUR.COM's experts to weigh in on several major topics, as well as rank their current top 10 players without a major. We tabulated the votes (10 points for a 1st place, 9 points for 2nd, and so on). Here are the poll results from our seven experts:
TOP 10 WITHOUT A MAJOR
Rank Total points Top vote 1. Jon Rahm 68 1st place (6) 2. Xander Schauffele 45 2nd place (1) 3. Bryson DeChambeau 42 2nd place (2) T4. Mark Leishman 33 2nd place (1) T4. Patrick Cantlay 33 2nd place (1) 6. Rickie Fowler 31 1st place (1) T7. Tommy Fleetwood 27 2nd place (1) T7. Hideki Matsuyama 27 2nd place (1) 9. Tony Finau 25 3rd place (1) 10. Collin Morikawa 15 4th place (1) Others receiving votes: Tyrrell Hatton (12 points), Matt Kuchar (11 points), Sunjae Im (9 points), Paul Casey (2 points), Matthew Fitzpatrick (1 point), Lee Westwood (1 point), Kevin Kisner (1 point).
Which player will break through first as a major winner?
CAMERON MORFIT: I believe Jon Rahm will like TPC Harding Park and collect major No. 1 this week. For some reason the trees there remind me of Valderrama (although I’m not sure how similar the courses really are). Also, he’s obviously playing well, and there would be something fitting about Rahm winning his first major in California, a long drive up the coast from where he won his first PGA TOUR event (Torrey Pines).
BEN EVERILL: Current form suggests you have to look at Rahm. He will be a big hope at the PGA, U.S. Open and November Masters. I’ll say he gets it done at Winged Foot, creating a little symmetry/irony with the Mickelson story.
HELEN ROSS: You can’t look past Rahm or DeChambeau, given the way they are playing. That said, DeChambeau has yet to finish higher than 15th at a major championship so my pick is Rahm – who has finished 11th or better in five of his last eight -- at this week’s PGA Championship.
ROB BOLTON: Now, don’t hold me to slotting Bryson DeChambeau No. 1 in the Power Rankings at TPC Harding Park, but he could spark a strings of breakthroughs that carry on through Patrick Cantlay at Winged Foot and Jon Rahm at Augusta National.
SEAN MARTIN: Collin Morikawa at TPC Harding Park. It’s not overly long and he has familiarity there from his college days.
JIM McCABE: Jon Rahm, upcoming U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
MIKE McALLISTER: Bryson DeChambeau at the Masters in November. He’s already been giving it heavy thought, unveiling his game plan to conquer Augusta National a few weeks ago. So this is all contingent on the course not being “Bryson-proofed.”
Will one player win at least two of the next seven majors?
MORFIT: If Jon Rahm wins the first one, I could see him winning the U.S. Open at Winged Foot; we just saw how well he does in hard conditions. Otherwise, I don’t see that happening. The depth on TOUR now is such that it’s almost impossible to run away for any length of time. Look what happened at Muirfield Village: Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas, the main combatants in week one, didn’t really contend in week two. I just think golf is like that now. Too many good players.
EVERILL: Bias alert: I absolutely think we will see someone double up in the next seven. My main targets in this are Rory McIlroy getting back amongst the majors; Jon Rahm kick-starting down the road to winning a handful of them over his career; and a resurgence of Jason Day … providing his back can hold up.
ROSS: I don’t think so. We’ve had such great fields and such great competition on TOUR since returning from the COVID-19 break, I just don’t see any one player going on a run.
BOLTON: If recent history is a guide -- and it probably shouldn’t be but it’s all that we have -- Brooks Koepka will hog the hardware. That kind of domination doesn’t last, but we’re in the wedge of time between a number of first-timers in the majors and far less of the plausible who haven’t won one. That promotes repeat major champions. So, while Rory McIlroy hasn’t been performing to his capabilities after the hiatus, put me down for him winning at least two of the next seven majors, one of which will be a Masters to complete the career grand slam.
MARTIN: Justin Thomas could do it. His all-around game is so good that he’s able to get on good runs.
McCABE: I know Brooks Koepka has won three of the last seven majors. So, it’s hardly a foreign concept to think that someone can win two of the next seven. But I also know that if you take Koepka out of the mix, 14 different players have won the other14 majors dating back to the Open Championship of 2015. That’s what dominates my reasoning to answer this question with an emphatic no.
McALLISTER: Yes, but it will be in two different years. A major winner this fall will win again in 2021. Which players? My five names, in no particular order – JT, Rahm, Rory, Koepka and DeChambeau.
How many majors will be won by players in their 20s in the next 12 months?
MARTIN: Four. I would expect a pretty even split between players in their 20s and 30s.
McCABE: Four. (For the record, they will be Rahm, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Tyrrell Hatton.)
Which player in his 30s is most likely to win his first major?
MORFIT: Marc Leishman at the Masters in November. (Ben, feel free to just copy and paste.)
EVERILL: Marc Leishman at the Masters in November. (Thanks Cam for the copy and paste.) Leishman will be a strong contender at both Masters and the Open Championship.
ROSS: I like the Leishman pick, too. But for the sake of argument, I’ll go with Rickie Fowler, who has contended before and is too good a player not to finally break through and win one.
BOLTON: Rickie Fowler at the 2021 Masters.
MARTIN: Tony Finau this week at TPC Harding Park … if Morikawa doesn’t win, of course. You knock on the door enough and it has to open eventually. He could overpower TPC Harding Park with his length.
McCABE: Tommy Fleetwood, who’ll turn 30 in January, will win the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island next May.
McALLISTER: Marc Leishman at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, channeling his success in winning the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open.
Will any player over 40 (hint: Tiger) win a major in the next 12 months?
MORFIT: The odds aren’t great, considering we’ve had only one 40-something winner on TOUR this season (Tiger at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP). The most likely 40-something major winners other than Tiger are Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott, the latter of whom just hit the big 4-0 earlier this month. Their chances are best at the Open Championship and, to a lesser extent, the Masters. The best story would be Matt Kuchar or Lee Westwood, ticking the final box on their careers. All of which leads me to my answer, which is no, I’m not counting on it.
EVERILL: Adam Scott’s recent 40th birthday has me juuuust barely saying yes. He joins the ranks of veterans who, on their day, can still provide. The Masters twice gives the likes of Woods, Scott, Mickelson, etc. a chance -- even if it’s a slight one. And somewhere in the youth parade we will get a week of don’t-forget-the-old-blokes stories.
ROSS: I don’t think so. The balance of power, so to speak, is trending much, much younger. That said, I never thought Tiger would win another major so I can obviously be wrong. If it were to happen, I’d like to see Phil Mickelson complete the career Grand Slam at Winged Foot, where he came ohsoclose in 2006.
BOLTON: If the over-under was 1/2 and Tiger at a Masters was off the board, take the under.
MARTIN: Lee Westwood at Royal St. George’s, the same course where Darren Clarke claimed his first major after many close calls.
McCABE: Yes, but it won’t be the 44- or 45-year-old Woods. Justin Rose and Adam Scott have each turned 40 and are legitimate threats, and if that ball-striking magic happens to coincide with Henrik Stenson’s appearance at Royal St. George’s, then toss him into the mix. Yes, he’ll be 45, but this is the kindest major to those over 40. (Re: Stenson won in 2016 40, Phil Mickelson in 2013 at 43, Ernie Els in 2012 at 42, Darren Clarke in 2011 at 42, and we all know about Tom Watson in 2009 at the age of 59.)
McALLISTER: Would love to see Tiger nab No. 16 but I suspect we’ll look back at his 2019 Masters win much as we do Jack’s 18th in 1986. And while I won’t predict an actual win for 50-year-old Phil Mickelson, I suspect he’ll make some noise in at least one of the next seven majors.