KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Golf’s past 16 major championships have gone to 16 different players – not one of them named Tiger Woods.
Luke Donald has come up empty too. So have Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker.
Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott were denied in agonizing fashion. Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open in 2011. This year, he missed the cut.
Which player needs to win this week’s PGA Championship the most? Take your pick.
Donald is ranked No. 1 in the world but is 0-for-35 in majors as a pro.
“In terms of preparation, I feel like I’ve tried everything. In the end it just comes down to being able to perform during that week,” Donald said.
Whether you have 14 major titles like Woods or none like Donald, the PGA Championship is the last chance of the year to win one. That may not add a sense of urgency for everyone, but it does bring some extra drama, especially with so many top players eager for a breakthrough.
Woods hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, and his pursuit of the record 18 professional majors won by Jack Nicklaus has stalled.
“Jack didn’t finish his until he was 46, so if you go by that timetable, I’ve got 10 more years,” Woods said. “Four more majors is a lot. I’ve got plenty of time.”
Woods won by five strokes at Bay Hill, came from behind to win at the Memorial, and made a late rally to win at Congressional in the AT&T National. So it’s been a good year for him.
Westwood has seven top-three finishes in majors, the most of anybody who hasn’t won one since the Masters began in 1934. Now 39, it’s hard to say how many more good chances he’ll have. The same is true for the 45-year-old Stricker, who is also still trying to win a major for the first time.
McIlroy was 22 when he won last year’s U.S. Open, and his potential seemed almost unlimited. His best finish in a major in 2012? Tied for 40th at the Masters.
For Scott, this tournament is a chance to bounce back from a nightmarish finish at the British Open, when he gave away a four-shot lead by bogeying the last four holes. What would have been his first major title slipped away in stunning fashion.
Johnson hasn’t won a major either, and his near-miss at the PGA Championship two years ago was also a stomach turner. He missed out on a playoff at Whistling Straits because he grounded his club on a patch of sand to the right of the 18th fairway, unaware that it was part of a bunker.
Johnson won’t have to worry about that this year. There are no official bunkers on the 7,676-yard Ocean Course, although there is plenty of sand – 27 of the 86 acres that make up the Ocean Course have been declared sandy areas by the PGA of America, meaning players can ground their clubs and take practice swings.
But the oppressive heat and humidity, and mosquitoes that do most of their damage in the morning, can make the Pete Dye-designed course a diabolical challenge.