18 Jul 2017

Making the leap from one Major to two

They say winning a Major is the hardest thing in golf, but it seems in the modern men’s game that a second win after you’ve got that first is even harder. The expectation levels go up a notch for a player that clinches one of the big four titles and with the heightened interest they often struggle to replicate their Major-winning form.

Unbeatable

Danny Willett hasn’t yet manage to kick on after he sauntered to a three-shot win at Augusta National last year and 2016 US Open winner Dustin Johnson looked (and was, for three successive tournaments) unbeatable earlier this year but a freak injury saw him miss The Masters and he stumbled in his US Open defence, missing the cut after failing to learn the intricacies of Erin Hills.

First Major

Indeed, the leaderboard at Erin Hills was full of people hunting for their first Major – any one of the top ten would have been a first-timer, it just so happened to be Brooks Koepka’s week. Earlier this year Sergio Garcia won his first Major at the most unlikely of venues when he defeated Justin Rose at Augusta National, to extend the run of first-time Major winners back to Jason Day’s breakthrough at the 2015 US PGA.

Predicting a Winner

It seems that predicting a Major winner is harder now than it ever has been, and with players such as Rickie Fowler, Alex Noren, Lee Westwood, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters, Matt Kuchar and Rafa Cabrera Bello all waiting to pick up their first, the depth of talent in the men’s game is there for all to see.

With that in mind, lets take a look at all the players who have won a Major since 2010, but have so far failed to add to their Grand Slam cabinet…

 

Graeme McDowell – 2010 US Open

A consistent performer and Ryder Cup stalwart in 2012 and 2014, McDowell only has three Major top tens since his Pebble Beach breakthrough, the last of which was a share of ninth at The Open in 2014. He didn’t qualify for this year’s Masters.

Louis Oosthuizen – 2010 Open

Ran away with the Claret Jug by seven shots seven years ago at St. Andrews and almost clinched a second in 2015 but lost the four-hole play-off at the same venue to Zach Johnson. Also finished runner-up in a play-off to Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters and runner-up at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay. A silky swinger on his day but needs to win more to cement his standing in the game.

Charl Schwartzel – 2011 Masters

Came from nowhere to win at Augusta with birdies on the final four holes (an unprecedented finish) but has barely contended since. A recent third place finish at Augusta represents his best Major performance since. A steady winner in South Africa and still only 32 but is far from reaching his full potential.

Darren Clarke – 2011 Open

A Major was the only thing missing from Clarke’s CV and it seemed fitting that the stoic 42-year-old should be last man standing in what seemed like a minor hurricane at Royal St. Georges. He won The Open at the 20th attempt and unsurprisingly hasn’t won since as his playing schedule took a back seat with the Ryder Cup Captaincy and offers for media work coming thick and fast.

Keegan Bradley – 2011 US PGA

Seemingly set for big things after winning on his first Major start, Bradley’s career never really took off and the anchoring ban of 2016 has further hampered his progress. A Ryder Cup qualifier in 2012 and a Captain’s Pick in 2014, Bradley has two top tens in Majors since 2011 and three PGA Tour victories. Finished 64th on the money list in 2015 and 114th last year.

Webb Simpson – 2012 US Open

Winning the US Open in San Francisco remains his only top ten finish in a Major. Has four wins to his name on the PGA Tour and like Bradley was a Ryder Cup qualifier in 2012 and a Captain’s Pick for Gleneagles. Another affected by the anchoring ban.

Adam Scott – 2013 Masters

The first Major Champion to win with a broom-handle putter anchored to his chest, Adam Scott is a regular feature on leaderboards at the Majors but is still to step through the door again after his 2013 breakthrough. He finished third at the 2013 Open, starting the day two strokes ahead of eventual winner Phil Mickelson (who won by three). A fifth place finish at the 2014 Open came courtesy of a final round 66 (he started the day 11 strokes back) and he was six behind at the start of the final round of the 2015 US Open, moving up to a share of fourth with a 64. Scott was three behind Garcia and Rose at this year’s Masters but a final round 73 curtailed his chances.

Justin Rose – 2013 US Open

Like Nick Faldo before him, Rose attempts to peak for the Majors and has a stellar record in the Grand Slam events. His 14-under total for second place at the 2015 Masters would have won at Augusta most years (but for Jordan Spieth’s having the week of his life) and he was runner-up again earlier this year to Garcia in a play-off. He was third heading into the weekend at the 2015 US PGA but was lapped by eventually winner Jason Day and had to settle for fourth. Started the final round of the 2015 Open three back (level alongside eventual winner Zach Johnson) but couldn’t find his mojo and finished T6. Missed the cut in the last two US Opens but his Gold Medal at the Olympics ranks highly on his own personal list of achievements.

Jason Dufner – 2013 US PGA

Had a better record in the Majors before he won at Oak Hill. Dufner hasn’t contended since and a T8 at last year’s US Open at Oakmont that came thanks to a final round 70. A five-time winner on the PGA Tour and Ryder Cup player in 2012.

Jason Day – 2015 US PGA

A career littered with top tens, Day finally broke through in 2015 at Whistling Straits. He’d had nine top tens (including three runner-up finishes) prior, and has three top tens since, including runner-up to Jimmy Walker last year in his defence of the US PGA Championship. Surely he has more Major wins in him?

Danny Willett – 2016 Masters

Shocked the world with his maiden Major title (won impressively as Jordan Spieth collapsed) but has struggled ever since. A five-time European Tour winner, Willett qualified for last year’s Ryder Cup but made little impact as USA defeated a rookie-heavy European side. Missed the cut in his Augusta defence by one stroke and withdrew during last month’s US Open with a back injury after an opening round 81.

Dustin Johnson – 2016 US Open

Had ten top tens (inc. two runner-up) before his Oakmont breakthrough. Finished ninth at Royal Troon last year after being fifth, five back, heading into the weekend. Johnson is the undoubted World No.1 after three wins in succession this year but needs a good summer after a wobbly patch in June. Will fancy his chances at the US PGA at Quail Hollow.

Henrik Stenson – 2016 Open

Romped to an historic, record-breaking win over Phil Mickelson at Troon last year but has struggled to get it going this year, missing the cut at both The Masters and the US Open. His record isn’t great at Augusta (T14 represents his best ever finish at Magnolia Lane) and he always seems to do better in summer as the season gets into full swing. Contended at last year’s US PGA as he looked to win back-to-back Majors but fell away late on after being two back at the start of play.

Jimmy Walker – 2016 US PGA

Admittedly he’s not had much time to build on his first Major title 8at a wet and cold Baltusrol. Had three top tens in the Majors in 2014 and was a Ryder Cup player that year and last. Missed the cut at Erin Hills and has been suffering with Lyme Disease recently.

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