FOX Sports South chronicles 20 excellent pro golfers who, for various reasons, have never claimed a major championship. This eminently subjective countdown comes with a big caveat: Given the incredible novelty of Chambers Bay (Washington state) -- the youngest U.S. Open course since Hazeltine National Golf Club (near Minneapolis) -- very few world-class players possess intimate knowledge of this jewel from the Pacific Northwest. So, it's hard to say if anyone's a classic fit. (Photos: Jake Roth/Kevin Liles/Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 78 ... AGE: 44 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Since 1998, Bjorn has posted eight top-10 finishes in major tournaments. On the down side, Bjorn doesn't have any top 10's in U.S. Open play. 2) Bjorn started the 2015 season ranked in the mid-30s. In other words, his 40-slot drop only accounts for a few struggling months. 3) 'The Great Dane' has 21 professional victories on his resume. His best efforts of late: Taking fourth in the Indnonesia Masters, and then placing 11th in the BMW PGA Chamipionship (European Tour). 4) Bjorn is no stranger to pressure, playing on three of Europe's victorious Ryder Cup teams (1997, 2002, 2014).
Thomas J. Russo
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 66 ... AGE: 37 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Riding Donald could be a risky proposition here: Since 2007, he has either withdrawn or missed the cut at the U.S. Open five times. 2) On the flip side, Donald stealthily took eighth at the 2013 U.S. Open near Philadelphia (Merion Golf Club). 3) In a 10-year cycle, Donald has produced eight top-10 finishes in majors. In that span, he has never gone consecutive years without at least one top 10 in majors action. 4) Donald might be a good fit for the Chambers Bay layout (just one tree!): The course has no vertical hazards or potential water calamities.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 29 ... AGE: 39 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Over the last 12 months, dating back to last year's U.S. Open, Donaldson owns nine top-10 finishes. 2) In that span, he won the D+D REAL Czech Masters (2014). 3) Donaldson placed seventh at the 2012 PGA Championship. 4) At the 2014 Ryder Cup, Donaldson earned the pressure-packed winning point for Europe, defeating American Keegan Bradley -- 4 and 3. 5) Donaldson is on the short list of Welshmen with multiple titles on the European Tour.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 38 ... AGE: 33 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Earlier this season, Mahan notched top-10 finishes in back-to-back high-profile touranments -- The Masters (ninth) and WGC Match Play (ninth). 2) On the PGA Tour in 2015, Mahan has four top-20 finishes. 3) In majors action since 2007, Mahan owns eight top-10 finishes -- including the last two majors (2014 PGA, 2015 Masters). In his career, Mahan has tallied back-to-back top 10's in majors play three different times.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 21 ... AGE: 31 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) In the last few months, Na has notched seven top-13 finishes on the PGA Tour. 2) Na may be a long shot for the U.S. Open. Dating back to 2005, he has only one top-10 finish in majors action. 3) On the PGA Tour, Na currently ranks 12th in putting average (1.72). 4) Na, who has five professional victories on his resume, earned a 12th-place finish in last year's U.S. Open (Pinehurst No. 2).
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 23 ... AGE: 25 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Koepka has a limited majors resume, but he also took fourth at last year's U.S. Open (Pinehurst No. 2). 2) Koepka had an interesting hot streak last season, with finishes from third to 11th over five consecutive tournaments. 3) Shortly after that, Koepka won two titles in a four-tourney span -- the 2014 Turkish Airlines Open and 2015 Waste Management Open.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 30 ... AGE: 34 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Since 2008, Snedeker owns six top-10 finishes in majors play -- including three top 10's during the U.S. Open (2008, 2010, 2014). 2) Snedeker has also tallied top-10 finishes in his last two tournaments -- the AT&T Byron Nelson (sixth) and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (second). For good measure, he also claimed victory in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. 3) The Vanderbilt University star hasn't missed the cut with consecutive majors in four years. 4) The following nugget applies to numerous golfers on this countdown: Of the previous 114 U.S. Open winners, 80 hailed from the United States.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 14 ... AGE: 23 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Of his last 14 tournaments, Matsuyama has enjoyed seven top-10 finishes -- highlighted by the 2014 Dunlop Phoenix title. 2) In the last two-plus years, Matsuyama has tallied three top 10's in majors action -- including the 2013 U.S. Open (10th). 3) Matsuyama is a long shot to win this year, since the vast majority of U.S. Open winners are age 25 and older. For what it's worth, John McDermott (19 years, 10 months) stands as the youngest U.S. Open champion in history.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 13 ... AGE: 33 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Holmes already has five top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season -- highlighted by the Shell Houston Open title, prior to The Masters. 2) In 2014, Holmes modestly posted his first top-20 finish at the U.S. Open (17th place). 3) Holmes (seven professional victories) currently ranks seventh on the PGA Tour in putting average (1.72).
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 38 ... AGE: 37 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Casey, who achieved a World Golf Ranking of third in 2009, has posted six top-10 finishes in majors action since 2004. 2) The Englishman took sixth at The Masters in April. 3) On the PGA Tour this season, Casey impressively notched top-10 finishes in three consecutive tourneys -- the Shell Houston Open (ninth), The Masters (sixth) and WGG Match Play (fifth). Earlier in the season, Casey enjoyed back-to-back top-three finishes (The Honda Classic, Northern Trust Open). 4) From a statistical standpoint on the PGA Tour, Casey currently ranks fifth in greens in regulation.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 44 ... AGE: 32 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Of his last four tournaments, Molinari boasts three top-five finishes -- the Open de Espana (Spain), the Memorial (USA) and the BMW PGA Championship (European Tour). 2) Of his 24 appearances in the majors, dating back to 2007 (The Open Championship), Molinari owns a pair of top-10 finishes (2009 PGA, 2013 Open Championship). 3) Since 2012, Molinari modestly has two top-30 finishes in U.S. Open play. 4) On the PGA Tour, Molinari currently ranks first in driving accuracy and second (tied with Stewart Cink) in greens in regulation.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 27 ... AGE: 42 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Since 1997, Westwood has recorded 17 top-10 finishes in majors action. 2) In fact, from 2009-13, Westwood enjoyed multiple top-10 finishes in majors for five consecutive years. 3) At the U.S. Open, Westwood has tallied back-to-back top 10's just once -- 2011 (Congressional Country Club) and 2012 (Olympic Club). 4) In his last 13 tournaments, Westwood has claimed two titles -- 2014 Thailand Golf Championship (Asian Tour) and the 2015 Indonesian Masters (Asian Tour). 5) From 2008-13, Westwood finished in the top 16 five times ... with a cumulative scoring average of 71.4.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 25 ... AGE: 39 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Poulter has been a consistent force in majors action since 2006. In that 10-year majors cycle, he owns eight top-10 finishes. 2) On the downside, Poulter has never finished higher than 12th at the U.S. Open (2006 at Winged Foot). 3) Of his last 14 tournaments (PGA Tour/European Tour), Poulter boasts five top 10's. 4) As previous Ryder Cups would attest, Poulter is one of golf's most clutch performers. He's a killer option for the Sunday back nine at Chambers Bay ... assuming he's still in the championsip mix. 5) On the PGA Tour, Poulter currently ranks 15th in putting average.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 17 ... AGE: 36 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) On the PGA Tour this season, Kuchar already boasts three top-five finishes (Sony Open, Humana Challenge, RBC Heritage). 2) Kuchar has been a late bloomer on the majors front: From 1998-2009, he didn't register a single top-10 finish. From 2010-15, the Georgia Tech alum has six top 10's. 3) On the PGA Tour, Kuchar currently ranks sixth in putting average (1.72). 4) Of the last five U.S. Opens, Kuchar owns three top-15 placements.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 11 ... AGE: 36 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) On the PGA Tour this season, Walker already has five top-10 finishes -- highlighted by titles at the Sony Open and Valero Texas Open. 2) Walker almost pulled off a 'Rickie Fowler' in 2014, claiming top-10 finishes in just three of the four majors. The lone exclusion: The Open Championship (26th place). 3) Walker, who has eight professional victories, currently ranks ninth in putting average (1.71) on the PGA Tour.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 10 ... AGE: 27 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) In just five short years, Day has become a TV-pairings stalwart at the majors -- posting seven top 10's in that span. 2) Day owns three top-four finishes at the U.S. Open -- 2011, 2013 and 2014. 3) Of his last 13 tournaments, Day has collected seven top-10 placements -- highlighted by the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open title. 4) For the 2011 and '13 U.S. Opens, Day had a sparkling Saturday average of 68.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 9 ... AGE: 35 ...REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) For this countdown, Garcia owns the highest number of top-10 finishes in majors play (19). 2) Garcia has three top-seven placements at the U.S. Open (2002, 2005, 2011). 3) Over the last 12 months, covering last year's U.S. Open, Garcia has recorded nine top 10's. 4) On the European Tour, Garcia currently ranks first in driving distance. 5) It's shocking that Garcia hasn't won a major over the last 16 years. In that span, he unofficially ranks as one of the world's 10 best golfers.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 5 ... AGE: 39 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Stenson currently stands as the world's highest-ranked golfer -- without a major championship. 2) Since 2008, Stenson has enjoyed nine top 10's in majors play -- including the fourth-place finish in last year's U.S. Open (Pinehurst No. 2). 3) For 2013-14, Stenson tallied multiple top-10 finishes in the majors. 4) On the PGA Tour this season, Stenson notched top-four finishes in three consecutive tournaments -- the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational. 5) Stenson currently ranks 11th on the PGA Tour in 'Driving Accuracy.' 6) Stenson hasn't missed a majors cut since the 2011 Masters.
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 7 ... AGE: 30 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) For 2015, Johnson has been the fastest riser on the World Golf Rankings toteboard -- moving up 16 slots in a relatively short time. 2) In the last three months, Johnson has brokered six top-10 finishes -- highlighed by the WGC-Cadillac Championship title. 3) On a per-year basis since 2009, Johnson has tallied at least one top-10 finish in majors play. In that span, he has eight total. 4) For this decade, Johnson has two top-eight placements at the U.S. Open (2010, 2014). 5) On the PGA Tour, Johnson currently ranks third in putting average (1.71).
WORLD GOLF RANKING: 8 ... AGE: 26 ... REASONS FOR A CHAMBERS BAY BREAKTHROUGH: 1) Fowler had a banner year in 2014, posting top-five finishes for all four majors -- fifth in The Masters, second in U.S. Open, second in The Open Championship and third in the PGA Championship. As a respectable follow-up, the Oklahoma State alum took 12th in this year's Masters. 2) On the whole, Fowler owns six top 10's in majors play. 3) Over the last 12 months, starting with the 2014 U.S. Open, Fowler has enjoyed 12 top-10 finishes. 4) Fowler has two professional victories on his resume, highlighted by the 2015 title at The Players Championship. 5) Given the mysterious aspect of Chambers Bay, Fowler should be among the first wave of U.S. Open favorites.