Tag:PGA Championship
Posted on: July 15, 2008 7:18 pm

26 Best Golfers to Win Only One Major Since World

I am going with the same criteria as I did for the 25 worst golfers to win a major championship, with one change: I am making it a top-26.

Why 26? It's simple. Steve Elkington is not in the same class as these other golfers, but his accomplishments make him appear to be. While everyone else arguably underachieved winning only one major, Elkington overachieved. But unlike every other overachiever in golf, Elkington time and time again stepped his game up in prestigious events. That deserves a mention, and thus he makes this list.

No winners since the 2002 PGA Championship are eligible. Yes, Jim Furyk will be on this list if he doesn't win another major, but I'm giving him more time since he won in 2003. Padraig Harrington also has a chance to get on here some day.

Also, the rankings are done based on performance. I don't care if you think someone was talented; if he didn't perform, he doesn't make the list. I am looking at how the players did in other majors and how they did overall. I got some flack for having John Daly on my last list because he was more talented than most of the other players. But statistically, he has been a mediocre golfer, one of the most mediocre to win a major championship, let alone two.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

26 Best Golfers to Win Only One Major Championship Since World War II

26. Steve Elkington – 1995 PGA Championship

Elkington is an interesting character. He won 10 PGA Tour events, one Asian Tour tournament, and once more on the Australasian Tour. Among his PGA Tour victories are two PLAYERS Championship and two triumphs in the winners-restricted event that begin each season. Elkington only won five normal tour events. He has been runner-up in the both the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, as well three other times in which he has finished third in a major. More so than any mediocre golfer, Elkington has stepped it up big time in the important tournaments and that earns him a place on this list. Most of the other golfers got on here because they underperformed; Elkington is a classic over-performer.

25. Al Geiberger – 1966 PGA Championship
Geiberger won 11 times on tour, including a Tournament Players Championship and MONY Tournament of Champions. He did not win an event after his PGA in 1966 until 1974, although he was runner-up in the 1969 U.S. Open. Overall, he recorded six top-five performances in majors. In 1977, he became the first player ever to shoot a round in the 50s.

24. Gay Brewer – 1967 Masters Tournament
Brewer recorded 11 top-10s in majors besides his one victory, at least two in all four majors. He also won 11 PGA Tour events. After his only major victory, Brewer never finished better than sixth in a slam and did not win a PGA Tour event for five years.

23. Bobby Nichols – 1964 PGA Championship
Besides his one victory, Nichols recorded four top-four finishes in majors, including losing by one stroke to Gay Brewer in the 1967 Masters Tournament. He too won 11 times on the PGA Tour, none bigger than his lone PGA Championship. He also won once on the Senior Tour.

22. Don January – 1967 PGA Championship

January finished in the top-10 16 times in major tournaments, including seven top-fives. He won 10 PGA Tour events, two of which were winners-restricted events. Although it doesn't affect his placing, he won 23 times on the senior tour, including one major.

21. Bob Charles – 1963 Open Championship
The Kiwi won five times on the PGA Tour, not including his 1963 Open Championship victory. He won eight times in his native New Zealand and four times on the European Tour. He was thrice the runner-up in a major, including twice in 1968. Overall, he had seven top-five finishes in major championships.

20. Tom Lehman – 1996 Open Championship

Lehman is the only person to be the 54-hole leader three consecutive years in the U.S. Open. Somehow, he has never won a U.S. Open. Despite being ranked number one in the world, Lehman has only five PGA Tour titles and two European Tour victories, one of which on each tour is the 1996 Open Championship. He also won THE TOUR Championship that same year. Six times Lehman finished in the top-three in a major, but only once on top.

19. Paul Azinger – 1993 PGA Championship
Azinger has won 12 PGA Tour events and two European Tour events. He has also finished in the top-10 10 times in majors, six of which were top-five performances. He was runner-up in the Open Championship in 1987 and the PGA Championship in 1988. He has finished in the top-five at every major at least once. Among his tour wins are the MONY Tournament of Champions and THE TOUR Championship.

18. Dow Finsterwald – 1958 PGA Championship
Finsterwald lost in the finals of the 1957 PGA Championship, but was able to get revenge in 1958 by winning the first year in which it was a stroke-play format. That 1957 defeat was the only runner-up Finsterwald ever had in a major, but he did finished third four times and in the top-five eight times. Overall, he won 11 PGA Tour events, but just the one major.

17. Justin Leonard – 1997 Open Championship
Leonard has been the runner-up three times in majors so far, all since his lone victory. There's still time for him to get off this list, but he hasn't been in contention since the 2004 PGA Championship, where he finished second. He has won 12 PGA Tour events, including THE PLAYERS Championship in 1998. His most recent victory came in June.

16. David Duval – 2001 Open Championship

Duval finished in the top-11 of all but four majors from 1998 until 2001. He never did so even once before or since. He was twice the runner-up in the Masters and also finished tied for third once. He also won 13 titles, all in a period of less than four calendar years. A number of factors led to Duval completely losing his game, but that doesn't matter. Just what he accomplished, even if it was only for a short time, was remarkable. Remember, he was the last player to take the top ranking away from Woods before Vijay Singh in 2004.

15. Jim Ferrier – 1947 PGA Championship
Ferrier finished in the top-10 15 times in majors, including seven top-fives after his lone victory. He was runner-up in the 1960 PGA Championship, thus denying what would have been the only person to win the PGA both in stroke-play and match-play. Ferrier won 14 individual PGA Tour events over his career in addition to four titles in four-ball competitions.

14. Ian Woosnam – 1991 Masters Tournament
Woosnam won 28 European Tour events, more than any other player with exactly one major title (Colin Montgomerie has won more titles but has zero majors). Twice he was awarded the European Tour order of merit. He had five top-five finishes in majors outside of his triumph and is one of 12 people to have been ranked number one in the world since the rankings debuted in 1986.

13. Tommy Bolt – 1958 U.S. Open

Bolt finished in the top-10 14 times in major championships, nine of which were top-five performances. He also won 14 individual PGA Tour titles. At the age of 52, he almost won the PGA Championship, as he was tied with Jack Nicklaus heading to the back nine. He finished third. That PGA Championship was held in February, not summer like tradition now dictates. Bolt is also one of the Hall of Fame's bigger snubs.

12. Ken Venturi – 1964 U.S. Open
Injuries derailed Venturi almost immediately after his only major title. He was twice the solo runner-up in the Masters Tournament, the first as the low amateur in 1956. Playing during one of the toughest eras in golf history, Venturi managed 14 PGA Tour titles and 10 top-10s in major championships. If he played in any other era or did not get carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists, he probably would have won much more.

11. Fred Couples – 1992 Masters Tournament
Couples had 25 top-ten performances in major championships and tied a record by making the cut 23 consecutive times in which he teed it up at Augusta National. He's had 12 top-five finishes, but only that one maiden triumph. Couples has won 15 PGA Tour events, including what is now known as THE PLAYERS Championship twice, and two European Tour events.

10. Tom Weiskopf – 1973 Open Championship
Weiskopf was four times the bridesmaid at the Masters Tournament among eight second and third place finishes at major championships. He won 16 times on tour, including five times in 1973. He tacked on a Senior U.S. Open in 1995 for what it is worth, which is something. But in lists like these it is worth nothing.

9. Kel Nagle – 1960 Open Championship
Nagle had seven top-five finishes in major championships, six of which came in a seven year period in the Open Championship. A native Australian, he had only played in majors twice before his 39th birthday, but defeated Arnold Palmer to claim one in 1960. He won 61 times in Australia and New Zealand, including once every year from 1949 through 1977 with the exclusion of 1961 and 1976.

8. Davis Love III – 1997 PGA Championship
Not including his win, Love has had eight top-five performances in major championships, including solo seconds in the Masters Tournament in both 1995 and 1999. He has won THE PLAYERS Championship twice among his 19 wins on tour, but that's not a major. Yes, some people call it the fifth major, but it's not. Calling it so would be calling Craig Perks a major champion, and nobody wants to do that.

7. Tony Lema – 1964 Open Championship
What can be said about Tony Lema? There is no doubt in my mind that he would not be on this list if his plane did not run out of fuel in 1966 on his way to a tournament when he was only 32. He had already won 12 titles, including five in 1964. He had already had eight top-10 finishes in majors over the past four years, including a second place in the 1963 Masters Tournament. Unfortunately, tragedies do occur and thus Lema has to make the list.

6. Lanny Wadkins – 1977 PGA Championship
Wadkins had eight other top-three finishes in major championships and 21 titles overall on tour, but only one major. He won the Tournament Players Championship once and the MONY Tournament of Champions twice. Wadkins's PGA triumph came in a playoff that greatly affected this list. Had he lost, he obviously would not be on this list. But neither would have Gene Littler...

5. Gene Littler – 1961 U.S. Open
Littler finished second in the U.S. Open in 1954, his first time in the field. It was one of nine top-five finishes in major championships, not including his win in 1961. He was a runner-up three times, including a solo second at the 1977 PGA Championship, giving him a remarkable 23-year top-two longevity. He won 29 PGA Tour events, the first oddly enough as an amateur in 1954 and last in 1977. To put that in perspective: he won his first event before Arnold Palmer won his first and his last after Palmer won his last. But Palmer had seven majors; Littler only had one.

4. Jerry Pate – 1976 U.S. Open
Besides his win, Pate had seven top-five finishes in majors, including two runner-ups. His career was basically over by 30, but not before he won 8 times on the PGA Tour. One of those victories was the Tournament Players Championship. Pate is a great example of a person who could have been so much more. Unfortunately, shoulder problems derailed him. He won his U.S. Open at the age of 23, one year after he took low amateur. Impressive.

3. Roberto DeVicenzo – 1967 Open Championship
What a stupid he is. DeVicenzo signed for the wrong score in the 1968 Masters Tournament, giving Bob Goalby the victory and keeping DeVicenzo out of a playoff. If you don't believe me, check out the picture at the top of the article. He had eight second or third place finishes in major championships and 17 top-10s over a 23-year period, despite playing in three or four majors in one year only twice. He won all over the world, including five times in individual events on the PGA Tour.

2. Tom Kite – 1992 U.S. Open

Kite had 27 top-10 performances in majors over four different decades, 16 of which were top-five. He was thrice the runner-up in the Masters Tournament and once in the Open Championship. He won 19 times on the PGA Tour and is the oldest player to lead a tournament through three rounds (2005 Booz Allen Classic at the age of 55). Kite could have easily won five majors; he didn't.

1. Lloyd Mangrum – 1946 U.S. Open
Who knows if Mangrum would have won a second title if not for World War II, but it's a moot point. Besides his victory in the 1946 U.S. Open, Mangrum finished in the top-three nine times and the top-10 25 times. He won 36 PGA Tour events, more than any player with only one major championship. And if it weren't for the war, he would have won more. He was one of the five best players of his era, an era that included Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, and Sam Snead. He was their Phil Mickelson.

As a side note, no major champion from the 1980s made the list. Most people who won majors in the 1980s won two or three, keeping there from being that many people eligible. The only ones to get serious consideration were Hal Sutton (1983 PGA Championship) and Craig Stadler (1982 Masters Tournament).
Posted on: July 14, 2008 6:43 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2008 7:16 pm

25 Worst Major Champions Since World War II

Okay. I've looked at every golfer to win one of golf's four male major professional tournaments and picked out the 25 worst to win a title. There have been some very obscure champions, three of which even won multiple titles. But these were the worst.

Now, there were some that were less accomplished. Ian Baker-Finch didn't achieve that much in his career, but before his mental collapse he was a top-ten golfer and many thought he would win multiple titles. He was not one of the 25 worst.

I looked at how many titles each golfer won, the caliber of those championships, and how he performed in other major titles. Claude Harmon only won one title, the 1948 Masters Championship, but he never played full time on the PGA Tour and had numerous close calls for a second major championship. He's on the list, but behind people who have won numerous more titles.Also, I have excluded every major from the 2003 Masters Tournament onward. It is too soon to judge these people. Yes, Shaun Micheel, Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis, Angel Cabrera, and Zach Johnson are all mediocre golfers, but until 5 years have passed, I'm not ready to put them on this list.

Anyway, enjoy.

25 Worst Major Champions since World War II:

25. Bill Rogers – 1981 Open Championship
The Open Championship had a good streak of producing solid champions until the 1990s, with the obvious exception of Bill Rogers. Rogers won only five times on the PGA Tour (his Open Championship was not counted as a PGA tournament until 1998, giving him six titles), including three in 1981. He won thrice on the Japanese Tour and also won the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. He also had three top-four finishes in the U.S. Open.

24. Jim Turnesa – 1952 PGA Championship
Some players just prefer match-play, and I did not want to punish them for that. But Turnesa was clearly among the least accomplished of the PGA Champions before the switch to stroke play in 1958. He was runner-up in 1942 and had four other top-five finishes in majors, showing that he wasn't just a match-play specialist. But he also wasn't a winning machine. His only other PGA Tour victory came in the 1951 Reading Open.

23. Scott Simpson – 1987 U.S. Open
Here is a perfect example of a golfer who was statistically a lot better than expected. Simpson made the cut over 80 percent of the time in his career and put together a respectable 32 top-three finishes. That's more than five percent of all starts. But he only won seven tournaments. And that has to count for something. Simpson had nine top-10s in majors, including a runner-up in 1991.

22. Jerry Barber – 1961 PGA Championship
Tucked almost forgotten in the annals of history is the answer to one of the best trivia questions: What golfer won PGA Player of the year in-between Arnold Palmer's two awards in 1960 and 1962? Barber defeated Don January by one stroke in an 18-hole playoff to win the 1961 PGA Championship, a mere two years after Barber finished one stroke behind Bob Rosburg in the same event. Barber won seven PGA Tour events, only one of which came after his only major. Given, he has an excuse for not performing after that win. Who was the oldest first-time major champion? Two trivia questions, one person.

21. Mark Brooks – 1996 PGA Championship
Brooks has had five top-five major championship showings. He also has had five top-14 showings. He lost a playoff to Retief Goosen in the 2001 U.S. Open, which would have been his eighth PGA Tour victory and first since his win in the 1996 PGA Championship. Brooks has made the cut 54.8 percent of the time on tour and has had only 57 top-10 finishes from 749 starts. With each passing year, it becomes
harder and harder to remember a time in which Brooks was even mediocre.

20. Max Faulkner – 1951 Open Championship
Back in a time when mainland European golf was much inferior to American golf, Faulkner won seven tournaments, including the Open Championship of 1951. Four of those wins were in mainland tournaments. He never played in a major across the pond, but did accumulate five top-10s in the Open, four of which came before Arnold Palmer made the trip in 1960.

19. Claude Harmon – 1948 Masters Tournament
I thought long and hard about whether or not to put Harmon on the list. He never played full time on the PGA Tour, which explains how this was his only individual title. But since this list is slanted towards what the player accomplished, I had no choice. Harmon thrice made the semifinals of the PGA Championship and totaled 11 top-10 finishes in major championships. Had he chosen to tour, he probably would have won a handful of tournaments. Instead, he only won once: the 1948 Masters Tournament.

18. Lee Janzen – 1993 & 1998 U.S. Open
Janzen twice beat Payne Stewart by two shots to win the U.S. Open. He also won The Players Championship. Besides that, Janzen had only five wins on tour and merely 62 top ten finishes. He has made the cut two out of every three starts, but he usually finishes down the leaderboard. He is in severe danger of losing his tour card after this year.

17. Lew Worsham – 1947 U.S. Open
Worsham blossomed quickly after World War II into a top-level golfer. He won five titles, including a U.S. Open in a playoff over Sam Snead. He finished third in the 1951 Masters Tournament, the closest he ever came to winning a second major. He also won the World Championship of Golf in 1953, which was as close to a major as anything.

16. Herman Keiser – 1946 Masters Tournament
Keiser gets a reprieve of sorts. He missed four years due to World War II and retired in the early 1950s while still young. Still, he won only four individual PGA Tour events and never finished better than tenth in a major championship besides his win at the 1946 Masters Tournament.

15. Lou Graham – 1975 U.S. Open
Graham had three top-three performances in the U.S. Open from 1974 until 1977, winning it in 1975 in a playoff over John Mahaffey. In 1979, he would win three times on the PGA Tour, half of his six lifetime victories.

14. Dave Marr – 1965 PGA Championship
Marr is one of quite a few players on this list to win only three times on the PGA Tour. The 1965 PGA Championship was his last triumph, but it was big enough to propel him to PGA Tour player of the year for 1965. Marr was runner-up in the 1964 Masters Tournament and finished fourth in the 1966 U.S. Open.

13. Lionel Hebert – 1957 PGA Championship
Hebert's first PGA Tour victory came in the last PGA Championship held in the match-play format. He would go on to win another four times on tour, his last title coming in 1966. He accumulated 13 top-25 finishes in majors, six times finishing in the top-10. Neither of those stats are too shabby. His brother gained consideration of the list too, as Jay Hebert won the 1960 PGA Championship. Jay would win seven PGA Tour events and have 10 top-10s in major championships, good enough to just miss.

12. John Daly – 1991 PGA Championship & 1995 Open Championship
Talent is nice, but success is sweeter. Daly's “zero-to-hero” story is swell, but his record isn't. Outside of his two major titles, he has only four top-25 finishes in majors. He also has only three other PGA Tour titles, one European Tour triumph, and a victory on the Asian Tour. He has made the cut 54.4 percent of the time on the PGA Tour, finishing in the top-ten less than eight percent of the time he starts on event. The PGA Tour average is slightly over eight percent. Daly is statistically a below-average golfer for his career. Even when compared to many of these other golfers, that's bad.

11. Tommy Aaron – 1973 Masters Tournament
Aaron had already had eight top-25 finishes at Augusta, including four top-eight showings, before he won in 1973. His best finish in a major anywhere afterwards was 29th. His success outside of the state of Georgia is entirely lacking. He won only two other PGA Tour events, one each in 1969 and 1970, one of which was played in Atlanta. He won the Georgia Open, a non-tour event, three times. His best win outside of the state was the Western Amateur in 1960, one year before Jack Nicklaus took the event. That event was played in Illinois.

10. Charles Coody – 1971 Masters Tournament
As the hardest major to get into, it's a lot harder for someone to win the Masters by sheer fluke. He would have had to do something to get into the field. Charles Coody? Not so much. Coody had finished in the top 12 in his last two voyages to Augusta National, but he required Johnny Miller to falter down the stretch to win his green jacket. It was the last of three PGA Tour titles for Coody, although he would go on to beat the other major champions in the World Series of Golf that year. He made the cut almost 80 percent of the time during his PGA Tour career and earned 84 top-10 placings, but three wins and only eight top-10s in majors will get you high on this list.

9. Steve Jones – 1996 U.S. Open
No player was worse five days before his triumph than Steve Jones. He had mild success in the late 1980s, winning four PGA Tour events and having four top-20 finishes in majors by 1990. Jones successfully went through qualifying for the U.S. Open, earning him his first major slot since the 1991 Open Championship. Remarkably, he won. He would go on to win three more times on the PGA Tour, but never better than 24th in a major. His eight wins despite only 44 top-10 finishes is one of the better ratios in PGA Tour history.

8. Wayne Grady – 1990 PGA Championship
Imagine if Grady had won the 1989 Open Championship. Just fathom that. Grady lost to Mark Calcavecchia in a playoff, which ended up keeping him from being a two-time major champion. He won twice on the PGA Tour, including his triumph in the 1990 PGA Championship. He also won a European Tour event and thrice on the Australasian Tour. Overall, he made the cut 55.6% of the time on the PGA Tour and only 4 out of 26 times on the minor-league Nationwide Tour.

7. Dick Mayer – 1957 U.S. Open
Mayer triple-bogeyed the final hole of the 1954 U.S. Open when he needed only a par to win. No worries. He came back and won the event in 1957. Over his career, Mayer won only six individual PGA Tour events, but he won two big ones. Besides the U.S. Open, he also won the World Championship of Golf in 1957, earning $50,000 for that paycheck single-handedly won him the money title for 1957. That's all nice, but take away 1957 and this guy was a nothing.

6. Andy North – 1978 & 1985 U.S. Open
In his career, Andy North had 50 top-10 finishes from nearly 500 PGA Tour starts. He only had three wins. He had five top-10 finishes in majors, four in the U.S. Open. Of course, he won two of those. No man who has won multiple major titles was as inherently mediocre as Andy North. World-wide, including his time on the senior tour, he has four professional wins in individual competitions. Half of those were majors. Okay, he was runner-up seven times, but besides his win in Westchester in 1977, he never won a non-major. That's just remarkable.

5. Larry Mize – 1987 Masters Tournament
Between the 1983 and 1993 PGA Tour seasons, Mize won only once on American soil. That came on a miracle, 1 in 100 chip at Augusta to beat Greg Norman. It wasn't surprising that he won the Masters Tournament; he has always been competitive on his home course. But that doesn't make him a good golfer. Mize has been consistently mediocre, doing enough to keep his card. He has an impressive 86 top-10 finishes on tour, but only four victories is alarming. Especially when you consider he was at his peak when the PGA Tour lacked a dominant player. He becomes eligible for the senior tour in September.

4. Paul Lawrie – 1999 Open Championship
The 1999 Open Championship was saved from having the worst major champion ever by Jean van de Velde's collapse on the 18th hole. Instead, it settles for the fourth-worst. Lawrie has only had two top-10s in majors, none since his win. He has also won only five European Tour events, including the major. He has never won on American soil. About to turn 40 and with a ranking well into the three figures, it's a longshot for him to challenge again.

3. Rich Beem – 2002 PGA Championship
Beem won the INTERNATIONAL and came right back to win the PGA Championship in 2002, beating Tiger Woods by one shot. That defeat spiraled Woods into a tailspin that dropped him all the way to #2 in the world by the end of 2004. It did not mark a new beginning for Beem. He has made the cut in only 8 of 21 major championships since his triumph, and only 8 top-ten performances. In his career, Beem has three titles and 16 top tens, making the cut in only one more than 50% of 266 lifetime starts. That is just bad.

2. Jack Fleck – 1955 U.S. Open
Jack Fleck didn't start playing full-time on the PGA Tour until 1955, when he was already 33 years old. No worries. He decided to break his maiden by winning the U.S. Open in an 18-hole playoff over Ben Hogan. Instead of being poised for greatness, however, he went on to mediocrity. Over the rest of his career, he would win only two more times and finish in the top-ten of a major only thrice. He lost his PGA Tour card when his exemption for winning the U.S. Open ran out ten years later.

1. Orville Moody – 1969 U.S. Open
This one wasn't even difficult. Moody won only one PGA Tournament and only two non-senior events worldwide in his career. He only had two top tens in majors, both in 1969. Sure, he became a legend on the senior tour, winning two major titles among 11 tour wins overall, but that is irrelevant in my criteria. Moody was clearly the least successful golfer to win a major. I'm going to go beyond that and say he was the worst. But he did win a major, which is more than can be said about Colin Montgomerie.

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