Blog
30
April
5 Of The Most Significant Runners Up Finishes in Majors
By: Ross Starkey

When is second better than first? Never, but that doesn't mean a great deal of effort hasn't gone into falling just short, often the plucky loser is remembered through the ages, if for the wrong reasons:

1. Phil Mickelson - US Open 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013
Adversity maketh the man, but try telling that to a teary Mickelson after posting his sixth runners up spot in his own National Championship last year. Which one was the best? Probably the first in 1999 against the late Payne Stewart, which provided so much hope for a bright future, the rest just got more and more painful to watch. For much of the round, it was a proper head to head battle, and it marked the entrance onto the major scene for everyone's favourite lefty.

2. Sergio Garcia - PGA Championship 1999
Like Mickelson, Garcia provided the kind of performance that would suggest many major championship triumphs, except it never happened. His play at Medinah included a superb shot played from against a tree trunk, amid a fantastic duel with Tiger Woods, which arced toward the green as he sprinted around the corner to see the outcome. He didn't come out on top of Tiger Woods that day, only a few have - though most have been cocktail waitresses.

3. Jordan Spieth - The Masters 2014
If the world hadn't already taken note of this young man's prodigious talent then they did after his rookie performance during the final round at Augusta. For the front nine at least it looked like we were going to see the youngest ever major champion win on his first time out at Augusta. His challenge eventually petered out, but not before securing even more column inches on his future prowess. One just hopes he doesn't leave it as long as number one and number two in this list.

4. Greg Norman - The Masters 1986
This one was meant to be Norman's Masters (or perhaps Seve's) he had built up his reputation as one of the best golfers in the world and he was out to prove it. In the final round he was looking to gun down the world's greatest ever player, Jack Nicklaus, he birdied 14, 15, 16 and 17. But it wasn't to be, going for the pin at 18 Norman pushed a wild shot into the gallery and finished with a bogey. It was the day that Norman was to come of age and set in stone a decade of domination, beset by underachievement in the majors. He would lead all four majors that year after 54 holes and win just one.

5. Rocco Mediate - US Open 2008
For every great champion there is a great runner up and at Torrey Pines there was no more deserving a champion that Rocco. Except he never became one. Tiger won his last (ever) major playing with a broken leg. It went down to the wire after Tiger holed a 15 foot putt for birdie to force an 18 hole playoff. The two battled it out the next day and still finished tied. In an epic playoff, one that would eventually elude Mediate, two moments of magic at the last hole would see Tiger's invincibility status prolonged, but only for another year. If Mediate proved anything that day, it was that Woods didn't just need to turn up to win, he needed to play too.