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From Patrick Cantlay to Will Zalatoris, Here Are 10 Players Due for a Major Breakthrough

Golf's parity has allowed many players to claim a major, but Gary Van Sickle has found 10 that are knocking on the door.
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay are pictured at the 2022 Zurich Classic.

Xander Schauffele (left) and Patrick Cantlay teamed up for this year's Zurich Classic title. But both are still looking for their first major title.

The Executive Directors here at the home office of The Ranking are very disappointed.

We were looking forward to this week’s edition of The Ranking, which will list the Best Players Who Haven’t Won a Major Yet.

Then we remembered, oh yeah, golf suffers from a blight known as parity. Just about every player who really, really should have a major championship already has one. Why is that? In 28 major championships since 2015, 21 different players have claimed titles. The only repeat offenders — er, champions — are Brooks Koepka, 4; Jordan Spieth, 3; and Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa, 2.

Golf is more exciting with a superstar at the top who plays for history and piles up majors like a stack of Pringles chips — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman. (Oops! How did his name get in there? Alert the copy desk!) A dominating superstar makes for a better narrative in golf.

Maybe Scottie Scheffler will be that guy. Meanwhile, here is The Ranking of the Best Major-less Players, based on how they’re playing now (versus a career achievement award, hence Rickie Fowler will have to play his way back onto this prestigious list) and assorted other factors as determined by our Radio Shack BS 7000 super-computer …

10. Will Zalatoris

Age: 26. Majors played: 7. World rank: 28. Last win: 2020 TPC Colorado Championship (Korn Ferry Tour).

We know what you’re thinking. How is a guy whose only pro victory is a Korn Ferry Tour event in this fabulous Top Ten? The BS 7000 likes his potential. The "Z" has finished second and sixth in the last two Masters. He has also placed sixth in a U.S. Open and eighth in a PGA Championship. That’s an impressive start to a career. His putting needs a little work but he’s already shown he’s not afraid of the big stages — such as the Masters, not the Grand Ole Opry.

9. Paul Casey

Age: 44. Majors played: 70. World Rank: 26. Last win: 2021 Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Meet the Grand Old Man on a list filled with young guns. The Englishman has always been a superior ballstriker whose work around the greens hasn’t quite been good enough. It looked as if he might win that 2020 PGA at Harding Park until Morikawa hit the drive of his life and eagled the 16th hole in the final round. That runner-up finish was his best showing in a major but he has other top-5 finishes in majors and 11 other top-10s. He reached No. 3 in the world rankings at one point, has 15 European Tour wins and three PGA Tour victories. Casey has done it all except win the big one. He played in the Walker, Ryder, EurAsia and World Cups plus the Eisenhower, St. Andrews and Seve Trophies. Somehow, at Arizona State, he missed playing in the Fiesta Bowl, but the BS 7000 doesn’t hold that against him.

MORE: Bob Harig's 10 Best Players With One Major Title

8. Tony Finau

Age: 32. Majors played: 23. World Rank: 18. Last win: 2021 Northern Trust.

This Utah native seems to play better on tough courses, notably the majors. While he has only two PGA Tour wins, he has finished among the top five in all four majors and was among the top 10 in six of the last 12 majors. If you hang around often enough, a win can fall in your lap. See: Jordan Spieth, this year’s Heritage Classic. His most famous Masters moment was making an ace in the par-3 contest and then dislocating his ankle when he decided to celebrate by running backwards — although, the BS 7000 notes, he still finished 10th that week.

7. Joaquin Niemann

Age: 23. Majors played: 12. World rank: 16. Last win: 2022 Genesis Invitational.

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The numbers don’t look good. Chile’s greatest golfer has yet to crack the top 20 in a major championship. However, this is only Niemann’s fourth full season on the PGA Tour so the BS 7000 cuts him some slack. Also, he’s won twice on the tour and already passed the $10 million mark in winnings. Is that number meaningless, given the big money in golf? It’s not meaningless if you’re the joker with the $10 million.

6. Billy Horschel

Age: 35. Majors played: 33. World rank: 14. Last win: 2021 WGC-Dell Technologies Championship.

He’s got more than $13 million in career FedEx Cup money and six PGA Tour victories but no majors and only one top-15 finish in a major, a tie for fourth in his first U.S. Open in 2009. The BS 7000 isn’t placing any wagers on Horschel to win a major this year but he is playing some of the best golf of his career. Curiously, he’s never made a Ryder or Presidents Cup team. The BS 7000 attributes that to user error.

5. Sam Burns

Age: 25. Majors played: 7. World rank: 11. Last win: 2022 Valspar Championship.

The former LSU All-American broke through with two victories in 2021 and has quietly sneaked up the world rankings like Ed Norton in yet another heist movie. He’s third on the money list this year with $4.4 million and is a rising star. He’s still just getting his feet wet in majors. One suggestion for that: galoshes.

4. Viktor Hovland

Age: 24. Majors played: 9. World rank: 6. Last win: 2021 Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.

Already the greatest golfer in Norwegian history, which isn’t the highest bar to clear, Hovland appears to be having more fun than anyone else in golf. He was low amateur at the Masters and the U.S. Open and tied for 12th in the Open Championship as a pro. He’s got game — five wins between the PGA and European Tour — and he’s got desire. His strength is his iron play — he ranks third in strokes gained approaching the green, and he is 18th in proximity to the hole, a key stat. He, too, is still learning how to play major championship golf. Norway is home to the world’s longest road tunnel. Hovland has already seen the light at the end of it.

3 Xander Schauffele

Age: 28. Majors played: 19. World rank: 12. Last win: 2022 Zurich Classic.

The 2021 Olympic gold medalist has cooled off a bit, slipping from a high of No. 4 in the world ranking. He and Patrick Cantlay just combined to win the Zurich in New Orleans and Schauffele has a nice history of contending in majors. He’s been second and third in the Masters; third, fifth twice and sixth in the U.S. Open; and second at the British Open. He seems like an obvious choice to win a major. So did Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood. But the BS 7000 projects him winning at least two majors. And it’s a Radio Shack product, so you can count on it.

2. Cameron Smith

Age: 28. Majors played: 22. World rank: 5. Last win: 2022 Players Championship.

The Aussie best known for his mullet has practically already won two green sleeves and a green vest. His five Masters appearances include finishes of second, third, fifth and 10th. Next up is the rest of the green jacket. His scrambling skills and putting accuracy make him resemble Jordan Spieth 2.0. Nothing seems to faze him and dunking that shot into Rae’s Creek in the Masters’ final round is something he’ll learn from. Also, who doesn’t want to see a mullet falling over the collar of a green jacket?

1. Patrick Cantlay

Age: 30. Majors played: 20. World rank: 4. Last win: 2022 Zurich Classic.

His seven tour wins include some significant ones — a pair of Memorial Tournaments; a BMW Championship; and a Tour Championship. He was third in the 2019 PGA and briefly led the 2019 Masters after making eagle at the 15th in the final round but he bogeyed two holes after that and the event was won by that Tiger Woods fellow. He’s got the game and the demeanor for majors. It’s just a matter of time, says the BS 7000, whose blinking red light currently says, “Warning: Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.” Hmm. Cryptic.

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