From Patrick Cantlay to Will Zalatoris, here are 10 players expected to make a major breakthrough
The executive directors here at The Ranking headquarters are very disappointed.
We’ve been looking forward to this week’s edition of The Ranking, which will list the best players who have yet to win a major tournament.
Then we remembered, oh yeah, golf suffers from a plague known as parity. Almost every player who really, really should have a major championship already has one. Why is that? In 28 major championships since 2015, 21 different players have won titles. The only repeat offenders — er, champions — are 4-year-old Brooks Koepka; Jordan Spieth, 3; and Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa, 2.
Golf is more exciting with a top superstar playing for history and racking up the majors like a stack of Pringles chips – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman. (Oops! How did his name get in there? Alert the copy desk!) A dominant superstar makes a better golf story.
Maybe Scottie Scheffler will be that guy. In the meantime, here is the ranking of the best players without a major, based on how they play now (vs. a career achievement award, so Rickie Fowler will have to return to this prestigious list) and various other factors as determined by our Radio Shack BS 7000 supercomputer…
10. Will Zalatoris
Age: 26. Majors played: 7. World ranking : 28. Last win: 2020 TPC Colorado Championship (Korn Ferry Tour).
We know what you’re thinking. How’s a guy whose only professional victory is a Korn Ferry Tour event in this fabulous Top Ten? The BS 7000 loves its potential. The “Z” has finished second and sixth in the last two Masters. He also placed sixth at a US Open and eighth at a PGA Championship. It’s an impressive career start. His putting needs a bit of work but he’s already shown he’s not afraid of the big stages – like the Masters, not the Grand Ole Opry.
9. Paul Casey
Age: 44. Majors played: 70. World ranking : 26. Last win: Dubai Omega Desert Classic 2021
Meet the Grand Old Man on a roster filled with young gunslingers. The Englishman has always been a superior ball striker whose work around the greens hasn’t been good enough. It looked like he could win this 2020 PGA at Harding Park until Morikawa hit the drive of his life and eagled the 16th hole of the final round. That runner-up finish was his best performance at a major, but he has other top 5s in majors and 11 other top 10s. He reached No. 3 in the world rankings at one point, has 15 wins on the European Tour and three victories on the PGA Tour. Casey did everything but hit the jackpot. He has played in the Walker, Ryder, EurAsia and World Cups, as well as the Eisenhower, St. Andrews and Seve Trophies. Somehow at Arizona State he missed playing in the Fiesta Bowl, but the BS 7000 doesn’t hold it against him.
MORE: Bob Harig’s Top 10 Players With A Major Title
8. Tony Finau
Age: 32. Majors played: 23. World ranking : 18. Last win: Northern Trust 2021.
This native of Utah seems to play better on the difficult courses, especially the majors. Despite only having two PGA Tour wins, he has finished in the top five at all four majors and was in the top 10 at six of the last 12 majors. If you hang around often enough, a win can fall in your lap. See: Jordan Spieth, this year’s Heritage Classic. His most famous Masters moment was making an ace in the par-3 contest, then dislocating his ankle when he decided to celebrate by running backwards – although, according to BS 7000 notes, he did when even finished 10th that week.
7. Joaquin Niemann
Age: 23. Majors played: 12. World ranking : 16. Last win: Genesis 2022 invite.
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The numbers don’t look good. Chile’s greatest golfer has yet to reach the top 20 of a major championship. However, this is only Niemann’s fourth full season on the PGA Tour, so BS 7000 is giving him some slack. In addition, he has won twice on the circuit and has already passed the $10 million mark in earnings. Doesn’t that number make sense, given the big bucks in golf? It’s not useless if you’re the prankster with the $10 million.
6. Billy Horschel
Age: 35. Majors played: 33. World ranking : 14. Last win: 2021 WGC-Dell Technologies Championship.
He has more than $13 million in FedEx Cup career and six PGA Tour wins, but no major and only one top 15 in a major, a tie for fourth in his first US Open in 2009 The BS 7000 is not placing any bets on Horschel to win a major tournament this year, but he is playing some of the best golf of his career. Curiously, he has never been part of a Ryder or Presidents Cup team. BS 7000 attributes this to user error.
5. Sam Burns
Age: 25. Majors played: 7. World ranking : 11. Last win: Valspar Championship 2022.
The former LSU All-American broke through with two wins in 2021 and quietly slipped up the world rankings like Ed Norton in another heist flick. He is third on the money list this year with $4.4 million and is a rising star. He’s just getting his feet wet in the majors. A suggestion for this: galoshes.
4. Victor Hovland
Age: 24. Majors played: 9. World ranking : 6. Last win: 2021 Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.
Already Norway’s greatest golfer in history, which isn’t the highest bar to climb, Hovland seems to be enjoying golf more than anyone. He was a weak amateur at the Masters and the US Open and finished tied for 12th in the open championship as a professional. He has game – five victories between the PGA and the European Tour – and he has desire. His strength is his iron game – he ranks third in strokes won near the green, and he’s 18th near the hole, a key stat. He too is still learning to play major championship golf. Norway is home to the longest road tunnel in the world. Hovland has already seen the light at the end.
3 Alexander Schauele
Age: 28. Majors played: 19. World ranking : 12. Last win: Zurich Classic 2022.
The 2021 Olympic gold medalist has calmed down a bit, slipping from a peak of No. 4 in the world rankings. He and Patrick Cantlay have just combined to win the Zurich in New Orleans and Schauffele has a great history of competing in the majors. He was second and third at the Masters; third, fifth twice and sixth at US Open; and second at the British Open. He seems like an obvious choice to win a major. Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood too. But the BS 7000 projects it by winning at least two majors. And it’s a Radio Shack product, so you can count on it.
Age: 28. Majors played: 22. World ranking : 5. Last win: Players Championship 2022.
The Aussie best known for his mule has pretty much already won two green sleeves and a green vest. His five Masters appearances include second, third, fifth and 10th place finishes. Next is the rest of the green jacket. His scrambling skills and accuracy make him look like Jordan Spieth 2.0. Nothing seems to scare him and diving that shot into Rae’s Creek on the final round of the Masters is something he will learn from. Also, who doesn’t want to see a mullet fall over the collar of a green jacket?
Age: 30. Majors played: 20. World ranking : 4. Last win: Zurich Classic 2022.
His seven tour victories include significant victories – a pair of memorial tournaments; a BMW championship; and a Tour Championship. He finished third in the 2019 PGA and briefly led the 2019 Masters after hitting the eagle in the 15th final round, but bugged two holes after that and the event was won by fellow Tiger Woods. He has the game and the demeanor for the majors. It’s only a matter of time, says the BS 7000, whose flashing red light currently reads, “Warning: Don’t Pass GO, Don’t Collect $200.” Hmm. Cryptic.
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