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Long-shots at Turnberry ... and Beyond

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As I was sitting recently trying to decide who to gamble on for the 2009 British Open, I found myself leaning towards some serious long-shots. Coming off the Angel Cabrera win at the Masters and Lucas Glover taking the U.S. Open, it’s just starting to feel like a long-shot kind of a year for the golf majors. ↵

↵Of course, 2009 is already out of the running for the title of The Long-Shot Year, a crown worn by 2003, the only year in the history of the current majors that one-time major-winners (to date) won each of the big four. That 2003 quartet is undoubtedly the weakest foursome ever to win them in a calendar year – Mike Weir at the Masters, Jim Furyk at the U.S. Open, Ben Curtis at the British, and Shaun Micheel at the PGA. I would have guessed at the time that Furyk was eventually going to win himself a big one, and Weir is a solid player who one imagined might have a lucky four days somewhere along the line. But if none of these four guys had ever won a major in their careers, it would have been no surprise, a fact borne out by the fact that six years later none of the four has managed to win another. ↵

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↵Given that Angel Cabrera already had a U.S. Open victory on his resume when he won this year’s Masters, no matter what happens in the rest of ’09, it’s destined to come in second to ’03 in the sweepstakes for the weakest foursome to win majors in a calendar year. That said, it does have a legitimate chance at second place all-time. Right now that second spot is a tough call, but I’m thinking that 1947 would take the prize with a foursome of Jimmy DeMaret (Masters), Lew Worsham (U.S. Open), Fred Daly (British) and Jim Ferrier (PGA). Jimmy DeMaret is obviously a legend, a three-time major winner and the first three-time winner of the Masters in history. Fred Daly is also a fairly famous name, but only because, prior to Paddy Harrington’s two-year run, Daly was the only Irishman ever to have won the British Open. That was his only major victory, however, and other than that claim to fame he did not have a distinguished pro career. Jim Ferrier was a better player than Daly, and had a similar distinguishing moment, being the first Australian ever to win a U.S. major by taking the ’47 PGA. But despite 18 tour victories total, he never would win another of the big four. Neither would Lew Worsham, who was without question the weakest link of this quartet. ↵

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↵So you see how 2009 has an opening to sneak its way into second on this not exactly exalted list. Angel Cabrera is nearing 40 years old, and with two majors to his name, he’s had an excellent career. He still could win another, but even if he does, I think he falls short of being considered a DeMaret-level player. And Lucas Glover, well … he’s 30, with two tour wins in five seasons on tour. I’m not going to say that he couldn’t win another major, but I’d be prepared to wager against it. At this point, he’d consider himself very lucky indeed to have himself a career anywhere near as good as that of Jim Ferrier. ↵

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↵Which leaves us with the final two majors of the year to decide the matter. Obviously, if a Tiger or a Vijay or a Harrington wins at Turnberry then the jig is up for 2009. But a Graeme McDowell, perhaps? How about a Thomas Levet, that French dude who always seems to make a go of it at the British and otherwise does nothing? You get one of those guys sipping from the Claret Jug and then, people, we have ourselves a horse race, with only the PGA, always vulnerable to a no-name champion, left on the card. ↵

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↵That is why, Golf Swami that I am, I have decided to plunk down a sawbuck on both McDowell (60-1) and Levet, who at 100-1 may just turn out to be l'oie qui pose l'oeuf d'or. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.