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The best players with only one major victory

Photo: Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated

Adam Scott won the 2013 Masters and tops Van Sickle's list of the best players with only one major win.

TAMPA, Fla. -- The floodgates are open. We're still waiting for the flood.

It's one of the clichés that nearly all media are guilty of spouting, especially the TV media, when a player wins his first major championship. He's taken his game to the next level. Now that he's got the first one, the floodgates could break open. Except in most cases that first major doesn't even lead to a small puddle, much less a flood.

We obsess about players who haven't scored that first major championship and how their careers are supposedly lacking. Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson, to name a few, are tired of hearing it. It's a backhanded compliment.

Once these guys win a major, though, we often expect them to turn into world-beaters and jump to the top of the world rankings. That doesn't happen so often, either.

And so we now take a look at golf's current one-hit wonders. Did we expect most of them to win a second major? Absolutely. But it hasn't happened yet for them. Here's my list of the current Best Players With Only One Major Championship:

1. Adam Scott (World No. 2) He won the Masters, finally, and he's repeatedly in contention in the majors. He's looking more and more like the best player in the game these days, a title for which Tiger is the other serious contender; his ballstriking has gone to the next level; and he's got two more years before his anchored long-putter is banned. It could be a sweet two years because no one truly believes he's done winning majors. He's just getting started. Time since major win: Seven months.

2. Justin Rose (5) At 33, the Englishman's game has come of age. He's not a prolific winner, with five wins on the PGA Tour, including this year's U.S. Open at Merion, and six in Europe. But he's won some pretty big tournaments against some pretty good fields and he's come up with big shots in clutch Ryder Cup moments. More majors to come? You'd think so. Time since major win: Five months.

3. Jason Dufner (10) The Duff, 36, is a late-bloomer, and based on his tousled hair, usually looks like a late riser. His ballstriking was dominant at Oak Hill, where he landed a PGA Championship in August -- a mild surprise only because his putting can be spotty. But as a semi-folk hero after his hilarious Dufnering pose, he was a popular winner. He should contend in a few more majors. Time since major win: Three months.

4. Graeme McDowell (12) The man from Northern Ireland drives it pretty straight, has a great short game (he ranked first in scrambling stats last year) and is streaky hot with his putter. He's always been a birdie machine but he survived Pebble Beach and the 2010 U.S. Open by making a lot of pars. At 34, he's notched a nice total of 10 wins -- two in the U.S. and eight in Europe -- and he made a run at a second Open at Olympic Club. He's not going away. Time since major win: Three years, five months.

5. Zach Johnson (14) Players who aren't big hitters are usually underrated, as is the case with Johnson. He's 37 and has 10 wins, but because he does it with stellar putting and wedge play, he doesn't get the credit. He won a Masters when the course played so difficult that birdies were almost accidental. His only other top-five major finish was a third at the '09 PGA. Maybe he wasn't expected to win that first major, but he continues to surprise. Time since major win: Six years, seven months (2007 Masters).

6. Jim Furyk (15) With 16 wins, including the 2003 U.S. Open, Furyk may one day be in the Hall of Fame, unique swing and all. It's been a very good career for the 43-year-old, who was known for his clutch play until recent years, but it was very nearly a spectacular career. Furyk has endured a stunning number of close calls -- would you believe he has 13 top-five finishes in majors? And he's still putting himself in position -- see last year's runner-up finish at the PGA. Under-achiever? Nope, just an achiever. Time since major win: 10 years, five months.

7. Webb Simpson (20) A rare under-30 player with a major, Simpson, 28, has only four Tour wins as of today, but he could rack up some numbers. He's got plenty of time, and potential. Time since major win: 17 months (2012 U.S. Open).

8. Keegan Bradley (16) He snagged a PGA early but has just one win since -- a WGC event in Akron in 2012. His game is improving, though, and his power will continue to make him a force. Time since major win: Two years, three months.

9. Charl Schwartzel (22) The South African has won twice in Europe and once in Asia, but hasn't won in the U.S. since his big Masters win in 2011. He ranked No. 1 in putting stats in 2010 but slipped to 102nd, 73rd and 44th the last three years. He still ranked fifth in birdies and eighth in scoring average last year. At 29, he's still got plenty of time to win that second major. Time since major win: Two years, seven months.

10. Bubba Watson (30) Bubba Golf peaked at the 2012 Masters. In fact Watson fell to 44th on last season's money list. Talk about a life-changing victory -- it seems as if he's still in recovery mode, as he hasn't won any tournaments since. He's got a lot of talent, though, and is so unpredictable that he is clearly capable of just about anything, including zero more majors or six more majors. Time since major win: Nineteen months.

 

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