Best Player never to win a Major debate

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Heard this mentioned on the Eddie Pepperell / Andrew Cotter podcast.

It is almost certainly Colin Montgomerie or Lee Westwood.

Tough to say who is better out of them. Both very prolific winners and with plenty of longevity to boot.

Recency bias is a big thing, but I think Westy just shades it having played both tours for a while and won in the states. I'd imagine if Westy wasn't playing 2 tours for chunks of his career, he could have focussed on winning more than 2 OOMs. Also he was the man who ended Tiger's reign as world no. 1... so very much 'best of the rest' when Tiger's injuries caught up with him.

Can't think of anyone else who might have valid claims?

Of current players, Matt Kuchar might be the only one you could put in that list. Could argue having played solely on the PGA Tour during the Tiger era he is generally playing in deeper fields week in week out. 16 wins including a Players, WGC, the Memorial and the Barclays Fed Ex playoff. And amazingly only 41... despite dressing like a 61 year old.

Westy still shades it for me.
 

timd77

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I agree, Westwood followed by Monty for me. Amazing that 2 such great players haven’t won a major.

Rickie Fowler’s one I’d love to see win a major.
 

Lord Tyrion

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No revolutionary comments from me I'm afraid. Of the current batch Rickie Fowler is the standout player not to have won one. Prior to him Monty and Westwood are unlucky enough to have the honour.
 
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re: Fowler... he was certainly trending that way earlier in his career.

Obviously fallen away in the past year or so. But I guess that's inevitable over a career of maybe 2 decades.

9 wins by age 30 - which is higher than I'd have thought.
 
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Although he's not been around long there's a decent argument that the currently playing best player to not win a Major is Rahmbo...
at the moment, in terms of form, world ranking, talent and ability... yes.

But like you say, harsh to put people in that category early in their careers. I believe the average age of 1st time major winners is 32... so the likes of Rahm and Fowler could still be well within that average.

I know it's been said about countless players, but I can't imagine Rahm not winning a major. Fowler... I wouldn't necessarily put a bet on. But he should have a tonne of chances at the Masters and Open Championships imo over the next 10 years.
 

larmen

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I am not following golf that long, but does any of the 3 mentioned have multiple near misses? I know the one that Willet won he was tied with Westwood after the Saturday.

Overall I find Westwood has a great 3 day game but it doesn’t always translate into the Sunday. Not that he is choking, but others can raise their game and he is left half a step behind.
 

Wolf

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I am not following golf that long, but does any of the 3 mentioned have multiple near misses? I know the one that Willet won he was tied with Westwood after the Saturday.

Overall I find Westwood has a great 3 day game but it doesn’t always translate into the Sunday. Not that he is choking, but others can raise their game and he is left half a step behind.
Monty has lost playoffs in majors and from memory, 2nd Place in 1995 PGA Championship.
US Open 2nd place in, 1994, 1997 & 2006
The Open 2nd place in 2005.

I'd say he is definitely the best not to win one especially with his European Tour dominance for so long.
 
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Monty or westwood or 3rd Stricker(loads of wins iirc but so good in majors).

Think I would say Monty edges it.
Westwood 3 putted the 18th at Turnberry to miss out on a play-off (with Cink and Watson) - going for a birdie putt as Watson was one ahead of him in the middle of the fairway, only for Watson to make bogey behind him.
He also missed a putt on 18 that would have put him into the 2008 US Open playoff with Tiger and Mediate. Not a gimmie and I think Tiger had to make a putt right after him to tie Rocco.

And had 7 other 2nd and 3rd place finishes in majors. been in a few final groups, but those 2 are probably the ones that he will feel he could have at least been in a play-off.
 

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Always love this debate! For me I'd say Monty just pips Westwood. If you look at their careers very similar indeed in terms of contending in majors (and arguably winning one) but Monty has more career wins worldwide and more order of merits over a shorter career span. And Monty just edges Westwood in Ryder Cup total points (don't forget he was also unbeaten in singles matches).

Would've loved to have seen them both win a major though.

Rahm clearly the best player at the moment not to have won, but surely only a matter of time on that front.

Personally don't get the plaudits for Fowler. Given how long he's been a pro, he's only got 9 professional wins worldwide, 5 on the PGA tour. Granted the competition on the PGA is far greater than elsewhere but IMHO that's a pretty poor return for someone with his talent. Obviously a marketing dream for a number of years, but is it a case of style of substance? I think it is.
 

Traminator

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Westwood 3 putted the 18th at Turnberry to miss out on a play-off (with Cink and Watson) - going for a birdie putt as Watson was one ahead of him in the middle of the fairway, only for Watson to make bogey behind him.
He also missed a putt on 18 that would have put him into the 2008 US Open playoff with Tiger and Mediate. Not a gimmie and I think Tiger had to make a putt right after him to tie Rocco.

And had 7 other 2nd and 3rd place finishes in majors. been in a few final groups, but those 2 are probably the ones that he will feel he could have at least been in a play-off.
Good stats there.

Whilst I can't back this up exactly, it's been my feeling as a viewer that most of Westy's top 5 finishes haven't really seen him looking like a definite candidate for winning, more like the best in the chasing group, if that makes sense.

I appreciate that's a generalisation, but Monty's been in playoffs and also looked like a genuine potential winner on more than a couple of occasions.
 
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Always love this debate! For me I'd say Monty just pips Westwood. If you look at their careers very similar indeed in terms of contending in majors (and arguably winning one) but Monty has more career wins worldwide and more order of merits over a shorter career span. And Monty just edges Westwood in Ryder Cup total points (don't forget he was also unbeaten in singles matches).

Would've loved to have seen them both win a major though.

Rahm clearly the best player at the moment not to have won, but surely only a matter of time on that front.

Personally don't get the plaudits for Fowler. Given how long he's been a pro, he's only got 9 professional wins worldwide, 5 on the PGA tour. Granted the competition on the PGA is far greater than elsewhere but IMHO that's a pretty poor return for someone with his talent. Obviously a marketing dream for a number of years, but is it a case of style of substance? I think it is.
But genuinely... put the likes of Kuchar and Fowler on the European tour - playing 16 or 18 events in Europe and I think their wins would be far greater. Maybe double.

Also remember that once you get into the top 50... you might play 22 tournaments a year. 4 x Majors, 1 Players and 4 x WGCs. Say another 3 Fed Ex Cup playoffs. Then maybe 10 other big events - elevated status on PGA Tour, Rolex events in Europe etc. All with top fields and a chunk of the top 25 there most events.

You aren't turning up for the Open de Nowhere as you and 3 others being the only other top 50 ranked players... which in all fairness probably padded out Monty and Westwood careers a reasonable bit.
 
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Good stats there.

Whilst I can't back this up exactly, it's been my feeling as a viewer that most of Westy's top 5 finishes haven't really seen him looking like a definite candidate for winning, more like the best in the chasing group, if that makes sense.

I appreciate that's a generalisation, but Monty's been in playoffs and also looked like a genuine potential winner on more than a couple of occasions.
Monty should have won the 2006 US Open. A mid iron from the fairway... 2 putt par required and he put it in the hay short right of the green. I'd guess that was the clearest shot either of them have had where they knew what they had to do for the win, not to maybe win or maybe get a playoff etc.

Monty's 2nd at the Open was losing by 4 dozen shots to Tiger... so not in realistic contention.
 
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I am not following golf that long, but does any of the 3 mentioned have multiple near misses? I know the one that Willet won he was tied with Westwood after the Saturday.

Overall I find Westwood has a great 3 day game but it doesn’t always translate into the Sunday. Not that he is choking, but others can raise their game and he is left half a step behind.
Westwood has 44 wins. He can definitely play on a Sunday. As alluded to above, he has had his chances in Majors. For what it’s worth I would say Monty but it’s worth noting that in and around the war, majors were either missed or played on the same date (USPGA and the Open) so probably a few players who should have had more chances would appear.
 
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Westwood has 44 wins. He can definitely play on a Sunday. As alluded to above, he has had his chances in Majors. For what it’s worth I would say Monty but it’s worth noting that in and around the war, majors were either missed or played on the same date (USPGA and the Open) so probably a few players who should have had more chances would appear.
Majors weren't a thing really until 1960 when Arnold Palmer and a few golf writers started referring to the Masters, PGA, US Open and Open as Majors.

People now refer to them as majors, but there used to be big events in the states (Western Open, Northern Open etc) that would effectively have all the top players there that no doubt the likes of Hogan, Snead, Sarazan etc. would have their share of.

Ben Hogan won the Masters, US Open and Open in 1953, but at the time the PGA clashed with the Open.
In 1951 he won the Masters, US Open and World Championship of Golf. The WCoG had the largest purse of any tournament at that time, so tough not to consider it a major of the day.

And when Jack Nicklaus won the Masters in 1986 the commentators talked about his 20 Major wins as Jack claimed two US Amateurs as Majors. A convention that has now fallen out of favour.
 

Traminator

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Monty should have won the 2006 US Open. A mid iron from the fairway... 2 putt par required and he put it in the hay short right of the green. I'd guess that was the clearest shot either of them have had where they knew what they had to do for the win, not to maybe win or maybe get a playoff etc.

Monty's 2nd at the Open was losing by 4 dozen shots to Tiger... so not in realistic contention.
Yep that 6? iron he hit short he'd hit a million times before, little fade to the middle of the green it should have been.

He was also erroneously congratulated by Nicklaus for winning the US Open, and without looking it up, didn't he look like winning again, only to narrowly lose out to Els?
 
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