Watching this World Series, with its two cities that have endured endless droughts, left me wondering which golf fan bases are the most tortured. So, without further ado, here is the definitive list, presented in reverse order of suffering.
Matt Kuchar fans. A resumé of seven wins and an Olympic bronze medal is not enough to get him in the conversation for the dreaded title of Best Player Never To Have Won a Major (BPNTHWAM), but let’s not forget that the 1997 U.S. Amateur champ was a can’t-miss-kid who in ’98 finished 21st at the Masters and 14th at the U.S. Open as a Georgia Tech undergrad. Ever since, a lot of folks have been waiting for the amiable Kooch to break through at a major.
Adam Scott fans. With maybe the sweetest swing in the game, the Aussie has to win more than one major…right? He’s had 10 top 10s since the start of 2011 but was a non-factor in ’16. Is time running out for this well-traveled 36-year-old?
Rickie Fowler fans. After his breakthrough 2014 season, during which he finished fifth or better at all four majors, it seemed only a matter of time before Fowler would nab a major. But he hasn’t had a top 10 since and his play regressed badly last year. Sadly, for Fowler’s legion of loyalists, it may be a long wait.
Jordan Spieth fans. After chasing the Grand Slam last year, Spieth looked like he would own 2016 too, when he stepped to the 10th tee of Augusta National on Sunday with a commanding five-stroke lead. We all know how that turned out, and Spieth never really recovered. Now he’s dropped to fourth in the World Ranking, and the three players he’s staring up at—Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy —all have a lot more firepower. Can Spieth pick himself off the mat and reassert himself? That’s one of 2017’s biggest questions, and the answer can’t come soon enough for his many admirers.
Lee Westwood fans. For years the sweet-swinging Westy could stake a claim as the BPNTHWAM. That time has passed, but Westwood, 43, made a surprise run at this year’s Masters until he yipped a putt on the 70th hole, a reminder of previous failures (18 top 10s in majors and counting). Yet what makes him such a tragic figure is the mere existence of best friend Darren Clarke, who was lost in the wilderness for years until his shocking British Open victory at the age of 42. All of England hopes Westwood can produce a similar miracle.
Sergio García fans. There is no more tragic figure in the game than the former El Niňo, who is not a bad hombre so much as a sad one. Hard to believe he’s almost 37, and that that his star turn at Medinah versus Tiger Woods was 17 years ago. García boosters would be wise to always remember the sage words of Cubs fans: Wait ’til next year.
Phil Mickelson fans. Sure, they’ve been able to enjoy their share of triumphs, but Lefty’s ritual disappointment at the U.S. Open always stings. Meanwhile, he has been a runner-up at the other three majors over the last three years, while going winless on Tour despite excellent all-around play. Cheering for Phil has never hurt so good.
Tiger Woods fans. Boy, these folks didn’t know how good they had it. For a dozen years Woods was the biggest sure thing in sports. Now he elicits comparison to Greta Garbo, not Ben Hogan. The long, slow decline has been agonizing, made worse by the knowledge that at the same age as Woods is now (40), Jack Nicklaus reinvented himself with two major championship victories. So, yes, Woods is somehow both the most dominant golfer of all time and the man with the most tortured fan base.