PGA CHAMPIONSHIP FIVE: Best players to make 1st major the PGA Championship

  • Article by: DOUG FERGUSON , AP Golf Writer
  • Updated: August 7, 2013 - 1:26 PM

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — The list of best players to have never won a major seems to get longer every year. And it becomes more meaningful at the PGA Championship, the final chance of the year for these players to stop answering questions about when they will win a Grand Slam event.

Lee Westwood and Luke Donald share the distinction of being the only players to be No. 1 in the world without ever having won a major. Sergio Garcia has been a candidate for the last five years, even though he's only 31. Steve Stricker joined the conversation with his resurgence.

The focus becomes even more intense considering that Adam Scott (Masters) and Justin Rose (U.S. Open) became first-time major champions this year. Go back even further to find that 14 of the last 18 majors went to players who had never won the big one.

The PGA Championship is as good a place to start as any major. It comes with a lifetime exemption into the tournament, not to mention the heaviest trophy among the majors, and an invitation to a champions-only dinner that is similar to the one at the Masters, but far more inclusive (wives are invited, for example).

Here are five examples of great players who won their first major at the PGA Championship:

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5. PAUL AZINGER

A late bloomer in golf, Paul Azinger won his first PGA Tour event in 1987 and quickly became an American force. He won every year since then, and had 10 wins on tour when he came to the 1993 PGA Championship at Inverness.

He already had lost the 54-hole lead in a major twice — in 1987 at the British Open, when he bogeyed the last two holes at Muirfield and finished one behind Nick Faldo; and in 1988 at the PGA Championship at Oak Tree, when Jeff Sluman closed with a 65 and won by three.

Azinger was one shot behind Greg Norman going into the final round at Inverness, which produced one of the great leaderboards in a major. Among those with a chance that day were Faldo, Vijay Singh, Tom Watson, John Cook, Lanny Wadkins, and even a young Californian in his second year on tour, Phil Mickelson.

Azinger closed with a 68 to force a sudden-death playoff with Norman. On the second extra hole, Azinger missed a good birdie chance. He was preparing to go to the next hole when Norman's 4-foot par putt spun out of the hole.

The high of his career came crashing down a few months later when Azinger was diagnosed with cancer in his left shoulder. He recovered to win again on the PGA Tour seven years later. He never seriously contended in another major.

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4. PAYNE STEWART

Payne Stewart stumbled into the first of his three major championships.

He had four wins, including the Bay Hill Invitational in 1987 and a five-shot win at Hilton Head in 1989. He was No. 13 in the world ranking when he came to the 1989 PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes just outside Chicago. Stewart, dressed in Chicago Bears colors through an NFL apparel deal, was six shots behind going into the final round and closed with a 67. Still, it looked like he would be runner-up at best, as he was at Royal St. George's in 1985 when he finished one behind Sandy Lyle in the British Open.

The man in charge was Mike "Radar" Reid, known for his accurate driving. Reid instead produced one of the great collapses in PGA Championship history. He made bogey on the 16th, double bogey on the 17th and missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th to force a playoff.

Stewart went on to win the 1991 U.S. Open at Hazeltine, and another U.S. Open in 1999 at Pinehurst No. 2 before his death that fall in a freak plane accident.

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Houston 2 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 5
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Los Angeles 10 FINAL
Milwaukee 1
San Francisco 12 FINAL
Texas 3
Chicago WSox 0 FINAL
San Diego 5
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Cleveland 9
Seattle 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 0 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 7 FINAL
Arizona 2
Pittsburgh 0 Top 2nd Inning
NY Yankees 0
Chicago 22 2nd Qtr 10:53
Indiana 25
Sacramento 28 2nd Qtr 11:23
Orlando 35
Utah 21 2nd Qtr 11:35
Philadelphia 26
Miami 23 2nd Qtr 11:24
Washington 40
Toronto 28 2nd Qtr 9:28
Charlotte 33
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
Houston
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Memphis
Phoenix 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 1 1st Prd 2:40
New Jersey 0
Minnesota 1 1st Prd 2:05
Carolina 0
Buffalo 0 1st Prd 20:00
Ottawa 0
Calgary 0 1st Prd 19:41
Detroit 0
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Chicago
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 68 FINAL
Char Southern 60
Ark-Pine Bluff 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Southern Ill 45 FINAL
Wichita State 56
Winthrop 67 FINAL
Radford 66
Evansville 67 FINAL
Illinois State 71
Towson 55 2nd Half 4:48
Elon 56
Gardner-Webb 57 2nd Half 3:29
High Point 57
Samford 56 2nd Half 7:38
UNC Greensboro 62
Northern Ill 10 1st Half 7:32
Ball State 16
Bowling Green 25 1st Half 5:52
Buffalo 17
Brown 31 1st Half 3:12
Dartmouth 16
Toledo 24 1st Half 4:41
Eastern Mich 19
Akron 25 1st Half 3:16
Kent State 33
Ill-Chicago 18 1st Half 4:15
Oakland 27
Miami-Ohio 16 1st Half 6:21
Ohio 37
Columbia 6 1st Half 6:10
Penn 16
Cornell 23 1st Half 3:13
Princeton 29
Central Mich 17 1st Half 7:28
Western Mich 24
Bradley 11 1st Half 5:14
Northern Iowa 21
Morehead State 10 1st Half 15:43
Murray State 8
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 7:30 PM
Citadel
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Drexel
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Baylor
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
(21) George Washington 77
Wake Forest 68 FINAL
(16) Duke 77
Furman 55 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 68
Monmouth 61 FINAL
Quinnipiac 82
Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
Belmont 65 FINAL
UT Martin 71
Arkansas 36 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 58
Mercer 56 FINAL
East Tenn St 66
Richmond 45 FINAL
Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Siena 61 FINAL
Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
Ark-Pine Bluff 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 57 FINAL
(24) Northwestern 62
Tennessee St 71 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 59
Loyola Marymount 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
(18) Texas A&M 65 FINAL
LSU 71
Cincinnati 76 FINAL
UCF 66
Saint Josephs 61 FINAL
Dayton 80
UCLA 62 FINAL
(19) Stanford 67
Santa Clara 42 FINAL
San Diego 51
Virginia Tech 30 2nd Half 7:38
(7) Florida State 68
SMU 47 2nd Half 7:44
Memphis 62
Lehigh 67 2nd Half 4:39
Holy Cross 56
Rhode Island 25 1st Half 2:18
Duquesne 27
North Florida 10 1st Half 5:42
(20) Fla Gulf Coast 25
Kennesaw St 23 1st Half 7:16
Jacksonville 19
USC Upstate 7 1st Half 7:46
Northern Ky 16
Lipscomb 17 1st Half 4:58
Stetson 34
Nebraska 26 1st Half 3:25
(14) Iowa 34
Saint Peters 18 1st Half 3:29
Marist 18
Navy 17 1st Half 3:40
Bucknell 22
Lafayette 21 1st Half 5:50
American Univ 25
Colgate 11 1st Half 2:53
Army 18
Georgia 9 1st Half 3:33
(5) Tennessee 22
Dartmouth 30 1st Half 2:12
Brown 18
Penn 19 1st Half 3:26
Columbia 13
(13) Princeton 33 1st Half 5:03
Cornell 15
Kansas 8 1st Half 4:13
Kansas State 19
Harvard 39 2nd Half
Yale 34
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
San Jose St 7:00 PM
UNLV
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
Nevada
Niagara 8:30 PM
Fairfield
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM
California
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