PGA Tour Confidential: Best Players Never to Have Won a Major, the Tour's Nonprofit Status and Where to Go South for the Winter

Sergio Garcia
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With his girlfriend on his bag, Sergio Garcia held off Henrik Stenson to win the Thailand Championship, his first victory since last December.

Every Sunday night, conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. Sergio Garcia was the best player in Thailand this week. But is he the best active player to never have won a major? Give us your top three in that category.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): Sergio is close to playing his way back into my top three. I've got Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar ahead of him, however.

Joe Passov, senior editor, courses and travel, Golf Magazine (@joepassov): Sergio is indeed the best active player never to win a major, in terms of talent, in terms of near-misses in majors and in terms of overall success worldwide. Lee Westwood is a clear and convincing second. Tough call on the third, but Dustin Johnson is my pick. Eight wins, a ton of talent and several shattering miscues in majors that could have/should have been his. He's due.

Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): Sergio isn't even the best player to make a tasteless Tiger Woods/fried chicken joke. In the never-won-a-major category, I'd take Jason Day ahead of him in raw talent and potential; ditto Henrik Stenson; and Lee Westwood on the basis of his many narrow misses; and possibly Luke Donald, though maybe I'm confusing money-made with near-major status.

Eamon Lynch, managing editor, (@eamonlynch): This was his 25th professional win, and he's still only 33, so he belongs on that list. The progress he has made in putting statistics this year goes some way to addressing one of the two main reasons he hasn't won a major. The other reason -- a lousy, 'chip on the shoulder' attitude -- is his next hurdle. The other spots on this list rotate between Westwood, Stenson, Donald, Kuchar, Stricker, Johnson and Hass, depending on whichever one of them is in vogue.

Jeff Riter, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group (@Jeff_Ritter): Sergio's in the discussion, but I factor longevity into this ranking, so it's 1) Westwood, 2) Kuchar and 3) Sergio. Westwood is a former No. 1 and has come close numerous times. Kuchar is best at this moment, and Sergio is one notch behind him. Just missing: Snedeker, Stenson, Donald, Stricker.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): I think that ship has sailed for Sergio -- part of being BPNTHWAM is the sense that you're still a threat to win one. He's looked so overmatched whenever he's around the lead at the majors that I don't think anyone believes he's a threat to win one, most of all Sergio. So I'd go 1) Westwood, 2) Donald, 3) tie: Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I think Kuchar, Westwood, Garcia, but I wish I could find places for Henrik Stenson and Luke Donald. Oh, the lives we lead and the choices we must make. More than a man can stand.

2. The Thailand Championship was played on a dramatic course, complete with floating island green, and the final round began with a leaderboard featuring Garcia, Stenson and Rose as your top 3, and Fowler and Bubba Watson lurking. So we ask: What is so wrong with tournaments paying appearance money?

VAN SICKLE: Interesting question that no one ever asks. I like it. The European Tour did it for years. Ernie Els has traveled the globe to play golf. Because he likes flying? No, because he likes free money. In a nutshell, appearance money just doesn't feel right. Ethically, it doesn't feel fair.

LYNCH: The PGA Tour's ban on appearance money seems almost quaint in its innocence, especially given how many routes there are around it. Buick sponsored Tiger Woods for almost a decade, a perfectly legitimate relationship that brought Tiger to Buick-sponsored Tour stops that he would never have otherwise deigned to play. Today RBC sponsors a wide slate of players and two Tour stops, tournaments those RBC players will support. It's entirely defensible, but not really that much different from appearance money to guarantee stars show for an event.

PASSOV: If I'm a sponsor/volunteer/tournament director/fan at any one of a dozen PGA Tour events, I'd be drooling with anticipation with that leaderboard and that field. I get that the top guys can't play every week and that courses, cities, sponsors and scheduling play a role in where they enter. I just think you have to level the playing field. Phil's skipping Humana so that he can play Abu Dhabi. At the very least, PGA Tour events should be allowed to match what the opposite tournament has offered.

BAMBERGER: They all pay appearance money, every pro tournament. The rest is semantics.

RITTER: Not sure I have a problem with appearance cash during silly season, but I'd prefer that the fees be publicized so the whole thing seemed a little less shady and nefarious.

SHIPNUCK: I don't have a problem with it -- golf would be much more boring from September to January without appearance money, because a lot of big names would be spending their time doing corporate outings or building golf courses instead of teeing it up in Asia and the Middle East.

SENS: It's good for some golfers (the ones getting paid to win around the world, and the ones back home who suddenly have spots open for them in events). And it's good for some fans (the golf-world version of baseball fans who like watching the All-Star game). But it's not a good sign for the Tour in this country. Especially when the best players in the world get so financially fat and complacent that they can't be bothered to play full schedules, which is already happening.

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