Here’s to one of these four winning first major

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Golf owes no one a rattling factor.

The sport is affected by roadkill — the hard-luck gamers who ought to have received a major championship of their careers as a result of that they had the expertise, acquired oh-so-close (or each) … however didn’t.

There isn’t sufficient area on this column or on this web page to checklist all of them.

Two distinguished gamers who’re residing this because the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course begins Thursday are Lee Westwood, the self-deprecating 48-year-old English warhorse, and Rickie Fowler, the 32-year-old advertising and marketing genius who additionally occurs to be fairly good at golf.

Both are lively veteran gamers who’re in any other case extensively achieved of their craft, but haven’t damaged the tape on the finish of a single major championship and topped the winner.

Westwood, who has 44 wins worldwide (two on the PGA Tour and 25 on the European Tour), is taking part in in his 86th major championship this week and has had 19 top-10 finishes, 12 top-5s and been runner-up 3 times.

Fowler, who has 5 PGA Tour victories, is taking part in in his forty fourth major and he has 11 top-10 finishes, eight top-5s and has been runner-up 3 times. In 2014, Fowler completed within the top-5 of all four majors with out tasting the fruits of victory.

There are two newer-generation gamers barely behind Westwood and Fowler within the heartbreak standings who’ve been on the same path to major championship shortcomings — Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele.

In equity, each are nonetheless younger and shouldn’t be doomed to by no means winning a major. But, till it’s accomplished, it’s not accomplished.

Just as I root for Westwood and Fowler to break by means of, I root for Finau and Schauffele — for various causes.

PGA Championship 2021 Rickie Fowler Lee Westwood
Rickie Fowler (l.) and Lee Westwood (r.)
Getty Images

I pull for Finau as a result of he’s one of the nicest human beings you’ll meet amongst high-profile athletes (save the drained “nice-guys-finish-last” refrains as a result of Finau doesn’t end final, he simply doesn’t end first.)

I pull for Schauffele as a result of he’s tenacious, unafraid of the large second and has a refreshing edge to him with out being annoyingly cocky.

Finau, 31, has amassed an unthinkable 32 top-10 finishes since his solely profession win on the PGA Tour, the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. Nine of these 32 top-10s have been runner-up finishes. Talk a couple of tease.

Only Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm have extra top-10s than Finau since his win in Puerto Rico. But in that point, these three gamers have mixed to win 31 occasions (15 from Johnson, 12 from Thomas, four from Rahm).

Finau’s newest close-call disappointment got here when he misplaced to Max Homa in a playoff on the Genesis Open in February at Riviera. That was Finau’s fourth consecutive top-5 end and his sixth top-10 end in his earlier 11 begins.

Finau is ranked 14th on the planet and holds the doubtful distinction as the one participant within the top-20 with solely one win.

As the miserable numbers proceed to pile up, Finau continues to smile his approach by means of the grind, believing in his coronary heart that his subsequent win is approaching Sunday.

Here’s the factor about Finau that makes this entire factor so curious: He hasn’t compiled these unflattering stats by choking away tournaments.

He shot a final-round 64 on the Genesis to get into the playoff. In his earlier match, the Saudi International, he completed runner up with a final-round 67. In his begin earlier than that, his runner-up end on the Farmers Insurance Open got here after a final-round 69. The final time Finau failed to break par on Sunday was on the U.S. Open, when he shot a 1-over 71 at Winged Foot.

PGA Championship 2021 Tony Finau Xander Schauffele
Tony Finau (l.) and Xander Schauffele (r.)
Getty Images

You by no means hear a “woe-is-me” out of Finau, the identical approach you don’t out of Schauffele, who’s had his share of shut calls already on the age of simply 27 with eight top-10 finishes in his 15 major championships performed, together with seven finishes within the top-6 and two seconds.

“All the failed attempts are hopefully going to lead to success at some point,” Schauffele mentioned.

“I feel really comfortable in major atmospheres, because I’ve put myself in contention in a lot of them,” Finau mentioned. “I haven’t been able to win one yet, but the more I put myself there, hopefully I knock the door down. Hopefully it’s this week.”

Schauffele mentioned is “first takeaway’’ from his close calls “is that I can win.”

“I’ve put myself in a lot of situations in big tournaments to do it,” he mentioned. “I do know that I can do it. I simply haven’t accomplished it but.’’

Here’s to Finau and Schauffele lastly doing it, one perhaps as quickly as this week. Westwood and Fowler, too.

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