Wednesday 26 April 2017

Westwood keen to shed 'nearly' tag

Discussions over who is the best player never to have won a Major crop up in golf debates all the time. But England's Lee Westwood is surely top of the current crop.

It is a list he hopes to remove himself from, though, when the US PGA Championship takes place at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from August 12 to 15. Westwood is not quite in the Colin Montgomerie class yet when it comes to near-misses at Grand Slam events, but he is getting close.

Montgomerie has five second places -- three in the US Open, one in the British Open and one in the PGA. Nobody in history has had more runners-up finishes without a win.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility, however, that Westwood could take that record from him.

Third place was his thing at first, missing the play-offs at the 2008 US Open and 2009 British Open by a single shot and then winding up in the same position at last year's US PGA.

But this season Phil Mickelson was the only one to beat him at the Masters and then only Louis Oosthuizen played better in the British Open.

And, if you are one of those who believe the Players Championship should count as a Major as well now, Westwood was runner-up there as well in May.

"Hopefully one of these chances will turn into a trophy." he said. "I keep putting myself into contention and it's not really to be sniffed at and complained about. All I'm going to try and do is keep going as I am."

The history books, though, are littered with others who did that and never cracked it. Australian Bruce Crampton was second in both the Masters and the US Open in 1972, then the PGA in 1973 and 1975. Every time it was Jack Nicklaus who beat him.

American Doug Sanders was back at St Andrews for the British Open this year no doubt recalling what happened in 1970. He would've beaten Nicklaus by holing a putt of under three feet at the last, but missed it and lost the play-off. That was his fourth runner-up finish, he never got as close again.

Between 1910 and 1932 Macdonald Smith had four seconds as well and so did Harry Cooper between 1927 and 1938.

Irish Independent

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