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Today's Best Without a Major Championship Victory?

One goes old school and the other chooses one of the game's young stars.
Hawk and Purk Podcast

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the Hawk & Purk podcast, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

An oldie but goodie: Who is the best player in the game today to have not won a major championship?

Hawk’s Take: Jon Rahm is the obvious pick here, which certainly doesn’t make him the right one. Lee Westwood’s recent resurgence, which actually began in January 2020 with a victory in Abu Dhabi, is a timely reminder of just how good the guy has been over the last 25 years. Rahm has 11 career wins, six of them on the European Tour. Westwood has 41, just two of which have come in the United States, although his extensive body of work might best be defined by a whopping nine top-three finishes at the majors.

Slowly but surely, Westy has worked his way onto the short list of the best golfers never to win a Big One in any era. His career bears a striking resemblance to that of fellow Brit Colin Montgomerie, who dominated on his native circuit but failed to match that success in the U.S. Westwood has claimed four Player of the Year awards on the Euro Tour and picked up three money titles. He spent 22 weeks atop the Official World Golf Ranking, ending Tiger Woods’ six-year reign in 2010, and has resided in the OWGR top 10 for the equivalent of eight full seasons.

He’s currently 27th, but at age 48, Westwood appears to be a long way from done. His accomplishments are far greater than those compiled by the handful of other elite players without a major title. Rahm might be the better golfer today and tomorrow, but in a historical context, the wide-angle lens rarely lies.

Purk’s Take: Although it’s an old question, it’s ripe with new conversation. And since the qualifier is “today's” player, that narrows the list considerably. Matt Kuchar has 14 PGA Tour victories, including a Players Championship but no major, although he owns 12 top-10s in 59 majors as a professional. But he’s 42 and time is running out, Phil Mickelson notwithstanding.

Xander Schauffele has the best percentage major record without a win – eight top-10s, including seven times in the top six, in just 16 appearances.

But today’s BPWM, no question, is Jon Rahm. The 26-year-old Spaniard has five victories on the PGA Tour and six wins on the European Tour. And not a shabby record in the majors. He has seven finishes in the top nine in 18 majors as a professional, including four in a row at the Masters. In fact, he already has two high finishes in majors this year, a T5 at the Masters with a closing 66 and a T8 at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

That’s just the track record. Rahm has all the physical tools – long off the tee, good iron player, solid short game, more than adequate putter. He’s currently No. 3 in the world and given the current state of his game, along with his success at Torrey Pines, Rahm could very well take himself off this ignominious list come Sunday evening.