KUCHAR, MAHAN AND POULTER: WHO WILL WIN A MAJOR FIRST?
Godich: The Match Play proved that you don't have to have Tiger and Rory playing into Sunday for the golf to be riveting. The event provided a formidable final eight, an outstanding final contested in difficult conditions and a worthy champion in Matt Kuchar. I was especially intrigued by the semifinal matchup between Hunter Mahan and Ian Poulter. All three of these players have popped up on the list of best players never to have won a major. Which of the three is the best bet to get one? And why?
Garrity: Until recently I would have said Kuchar, whose consistency and unflappability are perfectly suited to the majors. But Mahan's greenside play is so much better than it used to be that I don't see him going much longer without a green jacket or a claret jug or one of those other gewgaws.
Lynch: Mahan seems a more complete player, and has been tempered by his Ryder Cup traumas of 2010.
Shipnuck: Tough call, but I say Mahan. He may have risen to the exalted status as golf's best ball-striker and I think he's been hardened by his twin Ryder Cup disappointments (losing the deciding match in '10 and getting left off the team in '12). Muirfield and especially Oak Hill are ball-strikers paradises and I expect Mahan to get it done at one of those venues.
Morfit: I'd say Kuchar is the best bet to win a major, for two reasons. First, he's a ball-striking machine, a modern-day Jeff Maggert. Second, I don't think Kuchar has convinced himself that winning a major is the end-all, be-all of human existence, like so many others have, and I think that will help him when the pressure is on late Sunday afternoon.
Ritter: Just have a feeling this might be Poulter's year to break through, although Kuchar and Mahan are also both due for a major. Poulter seems to be building on his strong second half of 2012, which in addition to his astounding show at the Ryder Cup included a T3 at the PGA Championship and a win against a loaded field at the HSBC Champions. Kuchar's best shot is probably Augusta, while I like Mahan and Poulter's chances at Merion.
Walker: All three players are major-ready. Poulter's most likely to win one first. The T3 at the PGA Championship and win in Shanghai at the end of last year proved he's more than just a great match-play player. He can putt well under pressure and he has a, uh, positive self-image. Good recipe for a major championship.
Van Sickle: Kuchar's consistency and plodding, steady play sounds like the formula for winning a U.S. Open. He's got a Players and now a WGC. I think he's tough enough to win a major now.
Bamberger: Mahan, and at a U.S. Open. He's made for it. Fairways and greens and a good head, too, You could say the same of Kuchar. But Mahan has more ammo.
Wei: Kuchar probably because his game is all-around the most well-rounded. Can't count out Mahan, either, though They've both won at the highest levels, except for a major. For long term, I'd go with Jason Day, who has shown his intensity and talent on the largest stages.
Stoda: Kuchar gets my vote … and it'll happen this year. Let's say at the U.S. Open where his all-around skills will be put to best use. He's also always struck me as having a mean streak behind that almost-constant smile.