Phil Mickelson is the much-discussed player on the PGA Tour who needs a U.S. Open victory this week to complete the career Grand Slam, but he’s not the only big name in golf for whom this national championship has proved unreachable. Here are our senior writers’ opinions on the best player never to have won this major.
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David Dusek, senior writer
PHIL MICKELSON: Duh. He’s been a runner-up six times. Six. Times. No one deserves to be a runner-up at the U.S. Open six times. A victory at Pinehurst not only would get Mickelson off this list but would give the Hall of Famer the career Grand Slam and a sweet present to wake up to on Monday morning when he turns 44.
SAM SNEAD: He holds the record for most PGA Tour victories (82), including seven majors, but Snead never won his country’s national title. Snead finished second four times, including a playoff loss in 1949 to Lew Worsham after Snead missed a 3-foot putt on the 18th hole that would have extended the action.
NICK FALDO: He won six majors and reached No. 1 in the world, but Faldo never won a U.S. Open. The closest Faldo got to winning was a playoff loss in 1988 to Curtis Strange. You’d think a great driver and iron player such as Faldo, with his patience and work ethic, would have nabbed at least one.
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Jim McCabe, senior writer
SAM SNEAD: After all these years, it’s fair to ask: Holy hickory, how did he not win a U.S. Open?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, he has got something left in the tank and we might be taking his name off the list in a few days. But if he never wins a U.S. Open but owns a Claret Jug, it will be one of the game’s greatest mysteries.
GREG NORMAN: Never had a U.S. Open meltdown like Augusta National, but oh, how he let some slip away that still make you shake your head.
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Jeff Rude, senior writer
SAM SNEAD: Clear No. 1.
PHIL MICKELSON: Second a record six times.
TIE: Take your pick between Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman.
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Adam Schupak, senior writer
SAM SNEAD: His many close calls still edge Phil Mickelson even though Philly Mick took the lead in the runner-up department with six. Snead’s misfortune began in 1939 when he played the 18th hole too aggressively, believing he needed a birdie to win. He needed only a par but ended up making an 8.
PHIL MICKELSON: His heartbreak, of course, began at Pinehurst in 1999 when Payne Stewart holed a 15-foot par putt at the last hole to win.
NICK FALDO: He came closest to winning in 1988, with an 18-hole playoff loss to Curtis Strange at The Country Club. Faldo’s game seemed tailormade for at least one U.S. Open title.